This story appeared in the Manistee News. Read more here.

Northwest Michigan Health Services Inc. is launching a campaign to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the new school year.

Called the “VAX to School Campaign,” NMHSI is increasing the number of vaccination clinics and pop-up clinics in Traverse City, Benzonia, Manistee, Ludington and Shelby. The organization aims to get more students 12 year old and older vaccinated.

“Most parents have a difficult time thinking about a return to school while they are in the middle of summer,” said NMHSI CEO Heidi Britton.

“Since the students will need two doses and another two weeks after the vaccine to have full impact, timing is critical to assure students are protected against the virus when in-person classes resume.”

Britton added that the vaccine has proven to be safe and effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the most recent variants.

“Nationwide we are seeing COVID infection rates among young people increase, but we are also seeing strong protection with people who get the vaccine,” said Britton.

Michelle Klein, director of personal health for the Benzie Leelnau District Health Department, said it was important for as many eligible students as possible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for a variety of reasons.

“As far as immunizations go, it is so important for families with students 12 and up to get them vaccinated to make the school year as safe as possible,” Klein said.

“Kids can certainly get and spread COVID-19, and when we go back to school, kids are in close proximity every day. We anticipate an increase in cases and spread. More vaccinated students means a less extensive spread.”

She also said she was concerned about the Delta variant because it is more easily transmitted.

“Another important point many don’t understand is the more opportunity COVID-19 has to spread in a community, the more likely we are to see variants like the Delta variant, and new variants may not be covered by the vaccine. We want to prevent that from happening.”

During the vaccination clinics, NMHSI can help review the student’s status with other vaccinations that may be needed or schedule a wellness visit.

We don’t want families to forget about routine vaccinations, either,” said Klein. “There are still preventable communicable diseases like, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), meningitis and chicken pox out there.”

NMHSI has scheduled the following vaccination clinics for this week. Additional clinics may be added and can be available on their website at

July 19

• 9 a.m. to 1:50 p.m., Salvation Army, 1239 Barlow St., Traverse City;

July 20

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Northwest Michigan Health Services, 10767 Traverse Hwy., Traverse City;

July 21

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Taqueria TC Latino Dos, 2749 Silver Lake Road, Traverse City;

• 8-10 a.m., Northwest Michigan Health Services, 119 S. State, Shelby;

• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Walkerville Public Schools, 145 Lathrop, Walkerville;

July 22

• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Benzie Area Christian Neighbors, 2804 Benzie Highway., Benzonia;

• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Northwest Michigan Health Services, 6051 Frankfort Highway, Benzonia;

July 23

• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Northwest Michigan Health Services, 10767 Traverse Highway, Traverse City;

• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 4081 W. Polk Road, Hart.

The clinics are open to all students and adults. Children receiving the vaccine must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Verification of the birth date will be required. Walk-ins are welcome.

Additional clinics will be added each week as needed, and NMHSI will be working with area schools to schedule some clinics as well, according to Mike Kent, media consultant working with NMHSI.

Northwest Michigan Health Services is a federally qualified health center providing medical, dental and behavioral health care in western Michigan. NMHSI has clinics in Traverse City, Benzonia, Manistee, Ludington and Shelby. The clinics provide services to patients with and without insurance. More information is available at

District Health Department #10 is allowing parents and guardians to schedule an appointment to vaccinate their children age 12 and over from COVID-19 at

The health department also is offering off-site pop up vaccine clinics. Participants do not need an appointment. All clinics will have Pfizer for people 12 and older and most will have Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for 18 and older.

The following surrounding counties currently have off-site COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled:


• July 24, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — behind Lake Osceola State Bank, Baldwin;

• July 31, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — AMVETS, Baldwin;


• July 24, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Arcadia Daze, Arcadia;


• July 23, 3-5 p.m. — Ludington Farmers Market, Ludington; and

• July 30, 6-8 p.m. — Final Friday Experience, downtown Ludington.