Genesee County, MI— While the Genesee County Health Department and health departments around the country battled a vaccine shortage at the start of 2021, the logistical difficulties of getting shots into arms are, for the most part, behind us. 

Vaccines have become more widely available and health entities are expanding vaccine access to hard-to-reach populations, ordering more doses from the state, and adding more vaccination sites every week. 

In Genesee County, there are 165 vaccine sites enrolled in the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, an immunization database that tracks immunizations for Michigan residents throughout their lifetime, according to the state’s website. 

The GCHD also hosts walk-in, pop-up clinics at various sites in Flint each week and residents can now schedule an appointment online, an option that was not previously available due to the vaccine shortage. 

 GCHD updates the clinic schedule on their website every week.    

Shots are regularly available at most pharmacies like Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, and Meijer as well as through the Hamilton Community Health Network.  

However, while the logistical challenges have been overcome, racial and economic disparities still affect some individuals’ ability to access vaccines.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Black communities have been overrepresented in confirmed COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 related deaths. While the reasons are nuanced, one is socioeconomic status and exposure to the virus due to holding more “frontline” or “essential” roles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Because Black people are more likely to hold “essential” roles, and combined with the transportation challenges many Flint residents face, scheduling barriers often prevent minorities and low-income individuals from getting vaccinated.

While there’s still work to be done, according to Michigan’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, 49.6% of Genesee County residents have received their first dose while 44.7% are fully vaccinated. 

Last week, cases declined by 89% in Flint, likely because vaccines are increasingly available Rick Sadler, a geographer and assistant professor at the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University, said.

For further questions about vaccinations call the COVID-19 hotline at 810-344-4800. 

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...