Michigan weekly COVID-19 vaccinations starting to rise again

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LANSING — Michigan’s weekly number of people getting an initial COVID-19 shot rose for the third straight week after having consistently dropped for two months.

The increase coincided with the spread of the delta variant — the most contagious coronavirus mutant yet — and a $5 million state sweepstakes designed to incentivize vaccinations.

There were about 41,000 first-dose immunizations last week, the most since the week of June 13-19. Fewer people received an initial dose in July than in June — roughly 192,000 vs. approximately 167,000 — but officials said vaccination rates always are lower in the middle of the summer.

“The truth is that every single day when a certain number of people get vaccinated, the pool of people remaining by definition are harder to reach and harder to convince than those who made the decision before,” said Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan and a co-chair of the Protect Michigan Commission, which is targeting a 70% vaccination rate. “We have to work harder and harder to get an increasingly smaller number of people.”

The panel on Wednesday announced the six latest winners of $50,000 prizes. Registration for the monthlong vaccine lottery ended Tuesday. More winners, including the recipient of $2 million, will be announced in the coming weeks.

The $50,000 winners all were vaccinated after the MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes was launched. They include three women and three men — a hospital cook from Port Huron, a West Bloomfield realtor, the manager of a welding and fabrication company in Kincheloe, a Grand Rapids resident who works in the construction and supply industry, a Ford Motor Co. machinist from South Lyon and a respiratory therapist from Grand Rapids.

The latter, Brianna Hrejsa, said she was hesitant because the vaccines have emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration but not full approval. Pfizer and Moderna have applied for full approval, and a Pfizer decision is expected soon.

She said she did more research because she has contact with patients and her partner is immunocompromised.

“I want to do my part in … helping keep myself but my partner, my patients and my community safe,” said Herejsa, who plans to save most of the money, potentially for a down payment on a house, and to use some to pursue another degree. “I’m tired about being anxious about getting sick.”

About 64% of residents ages 16 and up have gotten at least one dose. The state’s goal is 70%.

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