About 500 people receive COVID vaccines at drive-through clinic

GRAND BLANC — About 500 Genesee County residents can begin to return to a more normal lifestyle after receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at a drive-through clinic set up Saturday at the Perry Innovation Center in Grand Blanc.

About 500 others received the Pfizer inoculation Thursday at Northwestern High School in Flint.

The vaccines were available by appointment for people 65 years old and older.

Undersheriff Michael Tocarchick was on site with volunteers who braved the cold for 10 hours. He said he spoke with many of the people who received the shot.

“A lot of these people have been in quarantine for nine months,” he said. “They’re excited and happy that maybe they can start to have a semi-normal life, see their children and grandchildren. It was so nice just to walk around and talk to them and make sure they were okay.”

At both sites, reports of reactions to the vaccine were few. A couple of people said they didn’t feel well, but quickly recovered and were able to drive home. Many people said they didn’t even feel the shot, Tocarchick said.

“They were amazed,” he said. “And, they were so impressed with how everything was dialed in – there was no confusion – it was easy to get through.”

He credited Mark Young, new chairman of the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, with setting up the clinics. Young represents the 5th District, which includes Grand Blanc.

“He brought everyone together,” Tocarchick said. “The true leaders came together and took charge.”

He also credited Dr. Pamela Hackert, medical director and health officer in charge of the Genesee County Health Department.

“She was a leader from the start,” Tocarchick said. “She gets it. She’s an amazing doctor.”

As of Sunday, Genesee County had 20,324 confirmed cases of COVID-19. With 626 deaths, the fatality rate is 3.1 percent. So far, more than 267,250 tests have been administered, with 91.4 percent returning negative results.

The average age of COVID patients is 44, according to statistics posted on the health department website. Patients have ranged from 1 month to 105 years old. The average age of those who have died is 75, the youngest being 27 years old, the oldest 105 years old.

The 48439 ZIP code continues to record the highest percentage of confirmed positive cases, with 13.9 percent.

At a press conference last week, Young said Genesee County had received the sixth lowest number of vaccines when adjusted for population, despite raking fourth for deaths among 83 counties in Michigan.

On Jan. 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for more vaccines, which were “held back by the feds,” was granted, he said.

“The reality is that, in Genesee County, we have been having difficulty getting vaccines from the state, and the state has been having difficulty getting those vaccines from the federal government,” Young said.

“This is all about supply and demand. The demand is high and the supply is low. The good news is, we’re hearing more vaccine is coming to Michigan and Genesee County.”

Ultimately, the goal is to vaccinate 1,000 people per day at least three days per week countywide, authorities have said.

Local health officials have requested another 3,000 vaccines, and expected to receive news on Monday about how many the county will receive.

“The group we’re in, Phase 1B, includes about 150,000 people in Genesee County,” Hackert said at the press conference.

At that time, the county had received only 975 vaccines.

“We are ready to ramp up our vaccination clinics to the extent that we can get the vaccines,” she said. “When we get it, we are going to put it in the arms of Genesee County residents.”