Free COVID-19 testing, vaccines still available

Young child with a mask on gives nurse a high five after receiving vaccine.

This article appeared in The County Press. Read the full story here.

The federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) regarding the COVID-19 pandemic came to a close May 11, a reflection of the dramatic decline in the number of new cases and deaths — including in Lapeer County and Michigan.

To date, 485 Lapeer County residents have lost their lives to COVID-19. There have been 16 COVID-19 deaths (confirmed and probable) this calendar year compared to 71 in 2022 and 81 in 2021.

Conditions have improved, though local, state and federal health officials remind the public that there is still COVID-19 around and free testing and immunizations remain available. Walkin clinics on the second floor of the Lapeer County Health Dept. office on Imlay City Road in Lapeer Township are available Mondays from 1-3 p.m., or people can schedule an appointment on Wednesday or Thursday by calling 810-667-0448.

While the federal health emergency is over, the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will continue to provide updates about changes to data reporting, epidemic orders and the continued availability of COVID-19 testing and vaccines. MDHHS will continue supporting free over-the-counter test (OTC) distribution through the Michigan library program. Tests shipped direct to households via Project Act will be supported until at least June 2023. MDHHS will also support distribution of COVID-19 antigen tests to highrisk settings including long-term care, shelters, jails and schools.

No-cost coverage for testing will continue for Michigan residents with Medicaid through Sept. 30, 2024, however other insurers may require cost-sharing. Individuals should contact their insurer for more information.

All currently distributed COVID-19 vaccines are considered federal assets. COVID-19 vaccines will eventually move to the commercial market, however, as the federal supply persists there will be no changes or cost associated with receiving a COVID- 19 vaccine. The shift to commercial vaccine is projected to occur this fall. The Biden Administration recently announced a program to preserve free access to COVID-19 vaccines for the uninsured and underinsured even after the PHE ends.

Michiganders can find vaccines nearest them by visiting vaccines.gov or call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888- 535-6136. MDHHS will continue to support vaccination for homebound populations through collaboration with Disability Rights of Michigan. Through a partnership with MDHHS, Medical Network One and the Visiting Nurses Association will continue also to be available to support COVID-19 vaccine events.

All remaining Michigan epidemic orders have been rescinded. Residential and long-term care facility reporting, testing and vaccine orders are also ending. McLaren Lapeer Region and Lapeer County nursing homes will need to observe CDC and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guidance and requirements which will continue to mandate reporting.

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You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

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