Facebook groups and 14-hour car rides. Some Michigan residents are 'desperate' for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jodi Schumaker cried as she drove north through Kentucky on Interstate 75 on Tuesday afternoon. She felt defeated driving home to Michigan without getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Her hopes had been dashed by bad weather, which delayed coronavirus vaccine shipments across the United States, including delivery to the Walmart store in Mississippi, where she and her husband had appointments to take pictures.
"I just want to come home safely in our bladder until I find another place where I can get vaccinated," said the 53-year-old Schumaker.
Schumaker's search for a coronavirus vaccine is focused almost entirely on her husband, David, who is 60 years old, has paraplegia, has diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure.
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"I get up at 6, 7 a.m. every morning and look for open slots or lists of extra cans," she said.
"He had a heart attack just before COVID and he had a heart attack during COVID," she said. "So he goes to physical therapy and comes home. Other than that, this trip is the first thing he's been out of the house since COVID."
(From left to right) David and Jodi Schumaker at their home in Independence Township, Michigan, on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, a day after a long ordeal and the search for a COIVD-19 vaccine for David. It was a trip that took her on a 14-hour drive to Laurel, Mississippi. The Schumaker was desperate to get him a vaccine registered with a pharmacy down there to get a shot, but when they got there there were none left for him. They had to turn around and it took them two days to return to their home on Tuesday evening.
For someone as medically fragile as David Schumaker, contracting the virus could prove fatal. His wife made it her business to find a way to immunize him - even that meant a 14-hour drive to Mississippi.
"That shot could mean saving his life, you know?" Jodi Schumaker said. "It doesn't mean that even if we get to, we'll be able to go to places until the world is a much safer place for him."
But getting an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine has been hard to come by for many as demand far exceeds supply and pushes some people to go to extremes to get a coveted shot in the arm.
Since there aren't enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines to give anyone who wants one a stab, state and local health officials have had to prioritize who should be the first to receive them.
Michigan vaccine approval guidelines have not yet been opened to David Schumaker, who falls into the 1C priority group for COVID-19 immunizations. Only people aged 65 and over, people living in long-term care facilities, and people with certain jobs that are considered essential are eligible for admissions in most parts of the state.
"We haven't been invited to appointments yet," said Jodi Schumaker. "It was frustrating. We do everything we're supposed to. We mask ourselves. We wash and we social distance. We couldn't celebrate the holidays with our kids. And they asked us to get the shot, and we 'me." am ready and waiting, but there is no way to get the shot. "
In mid-February, she found a Facebook group called Midwest Vaccine Hunters and asked for advice. There volunteers help people like the Schumakers find vaccine appointments. There she learned that some people were successfully vaccinated at Walmart stores in Mississippi.
Katie Monaghan also checked the Midwest Vaccine Hunters Facebook page earlier this month and realized how badly Michiganers like the Schumakers were in need of help.
Katie Monaghan, 27, of Royal Oak, has created three regional vaccine hunter Facebook group pages to help eligible Michiganders find and schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments while they are with their cats Luna on Tuesday, February 23 1 and 2 work from home and keep their company going. 2021. Monaghan, who says she works as a manufacturing engineer in the auto industry, founded the Facebook group after websites like this one surfaced in other states. Monaghan says that with the help of 30 volunteers, she created a Vaccine Angels program that is helping people register for the vaccine.
When Monaghan saw that Michigan didn't have Facebook groups for vaccine hunters, she created one and began using her technical skills to help others make appointments.
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"You see people who are righteous, they are desperate," said Monaghan, a 27-year-old manufacturing engineer. "They've tried everything and to finally get that appointment for them it's just the best feeling in the world."
Monaghan founded the state's first Facebook group for vaccine hunters on Feb.11.
Katie Monaghan, 27, of Royal Oak, has created three regional vaccine hunter Facebook group pages to help eligible Michiganders find and schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments while they are from home on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 working out. Monaghan, who says she works as a manufacturing engineer in the auto industry, started the Facebook group after websites like this one surfaced in other states. Monaghan says that with the help of 30 volunteers, she created a Vaccine Angels program that is helping people register for the vaccine.
"The vast majority of the work we are doing right now is connecting eligible people to appointments and helping them navigate the somewhat fragmented system of making appointments," said Monaghan. "We hear from a lot of people who live out of state but have elderly parents who live in the area and are trying to navigate the Michigan system to get their elderly parents that appointment.
"The Michigan rollout did a really good job of making sure that you were very close to a place where vaccines are sold. The downside of that coin, however, is that you need to review a lot of different areas, as there are currently very few There is little available places and they come on lots of different lines to get that first date. So we get a lot of people at the end of the joke. "
Assistant teacher Kim O'Neal is among them.
Teachers in Michigan are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, and substitute teachers are also qualified. But, she explained, there's no slim way for her to sign up for a shot.
O'Neal said she spent hours several days a week calling the phone line of a local hospital system for COVID-19 vaccine appointments, but "on the rare occasions I get through ... I always go after about 10 minutes hung up."
Elizabeth Griem, 33, knows this heartbreak.
"It was a nightmare," Griem said as he tried to schedule their father and father-in-law for COVID-19 vaccines when the state opened eligibility to those 65 and over. "I called every doctor they had. I called everyone I could think of, you know, every hospital system. I spent about two weeks on hold, hours every day, just trying to figure out where to take them can. " .
Grosse Pointe's Elizabeth Griem, 33, holds her 2-year-old daughter Aaliyah on her lap as she works to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments for people eligible for gunfire in Michigan.
She added, "I could only imagine what it would be like for a senior citizen to try to navigate the online system or make phone calls. It's very stressful for people, and it's like a full-time job doing that. " . "
When she finally managed to get vaccination appointments, "he cried. I cried," said Griem. "The same goes for my father-in-law. ... It was a great relief for all of us."
Then she focused on helping others.
"There are many people ready to help, and there are many people who need help," said Griem, now known as the social media vaccine angel who volunteers to find vaccination dates for people who are unable to look for them on their own.
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"A lot of people don't know where to start," said Karen Dunnam, 64, of Grand Rapids, who hosts the vaccine hunters Facebook group in western Michigan.
She shares tricks and tips with people searching for vaccine appointments, provides information on which time shops typically open new vaccine appointments, as well as details on postponing vaccination eligibility requirements for some local health departments.
Karen Dunnam, 64, of Grand Rapids, hosts the vaccine hunters Facebook group in western Michigan helping people search for and plan for COVID-19 vaccines.
The City of Detroit Health Department has a "Good Neighbor" program and will distribute COVID-19 vaccines to anyone aged 55 and over who drive a Detroit senior to a vaccination clinic, regardless of where that driver lives.
"In the Detroit area group, we have people lining up to drive a Detroit man to have a shot so they can get a shot," she said.
Dunnam encourages people looking for vaccine doses to register with their local health authorities and also put themselves on waiting lists in hospitals and pharmacies. She said people should also bear in mind that sometimes at the end of the day, vaccination clinics give extra doses to people who don't meet the state's approval criteria just to avoid wasting them.
"It's such a moving target," said Dunnam. “There was a message the other day that someone said you should call your Walgreens who run a clinic to get the list of leftover vaccines and be in the parking lot at 3:00 p.m., let them know you're there are ... and if you get to the store at 3:30 you might get a vaccine. "
It's not a sure thing, said Dunnam, but "it's better than going to Mississippi."
Judy Constant, 57, of St. Clair Shores volunteers to help people in Michigan who want COVID-19 vaccines to make appointments.
About 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Michigan since December, according to the state, and approximately 16% of the state's population ages 16 and older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
State health officials have set a goal of fully immunizing 70% of Michigan's 16-year-old and older population - approximately 5.7 million people - by the end of the year. The vaccines currently on the market Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna require two vaccinations with an interval of three to four weeks.
Judy Constant, 57,
will be emotionally thinking about how hard it was getting a shot for her 95 year old mother and wants to make sure other elderly people can get their vaccines too.
“My husband saw me stand up and fire on my computer,” she said when she manages to get a highly competitive appointment for someone in need.
"I'll call it the golden ticket and I'll send you a picture of a golden ticket from Willy Wonka on my phone."
Jodi Schumaker is still looking for her husband's golden ticket.
"This is my life now," she said. "I'll just keep working until he gets a shot."
Follow Kristen Shamus on Twitter @kristenshamus.
This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: The Hunt for COVID-19 Vaccine Brings the Michigan couple to Mississippi
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