NEWS | Feb. 25, 2021

Michigan National Guard helps vaccinate hundreds of people

By Master Sgt. David Eichaker Michigan National Guard

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Michigan National Guard and the Grand Traverse Health Department hosted a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Traverse City, otherwise known as the cherry capital of the world.

"Today, we are doing 600 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the 65-years-and-older population," said Michael Lahey of the county health department. "We have the Michigan National Guard and local public health department staff working collaboratively to administer the vaccine."

Members of the Michigan National Guard performed various roles at the clinic. Vaccinators, assistants, and post-vaccination observers helped keep the process flowing smoothly.

"The Guard helps with the observation room as well," said Lahey. "That is a big bottleneck area when you start vaccinating 600+ people a day, and the observation room will swell because of the 15- to 30-minute observation time required."

One resident, a retired respiratory therapist, talked about what the vaccine means to her.

"It's been a long year," said Jan Shifferd of Williamsburg. "I received the vaccine to protect myself, grandkids and family. My mom is 99 and is doing fantastic but has not seen anybody in almost a year."

The COVID-19 inoculation is a multi-vaccination process, with the second dose scheduled three to four weeks after the first.

"We've been anxious to see my mom, and she is getting her second shot today, so we're hoping in March we can go inside, visit and play cards again with mom," Shifferd said.

The Michigan National Guard has been assisting local health departments where needed at the request of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"A really important component right now based on the population being vaccinated is mobility," said Lahey. "Last week, we held a clinic for residents in their 70s, 80s and 90s, and the snow presented a lot of mobility challenges.

"The previous week we had about 11 wheelchairs being constantly used, and the MING really helped moving that clientele through the building safely and effectively," he said.