Oakland County Executive explains how county hit 70% vaccinated against COVID-19

Oakland County is the second in Michigan to pass the finish line and clear the state's goal of vaccinating 70% of its population.

While 63% of the state is covered by the COVID-19 vaccine, it's still lagging behind. But for the state's second-largest county to meet the milestone is an accomplishment. 

So how did the county do it? Executive Dave Coulter said that it was a team effort to get the message out and encourage vaccinations.

"We just really leaned in on this as the county, we’ve been working extremely hard towards this day," Coulter said. "We had hoped like President Biden said to reach this milestone by July 4th, we didn't make that. But we're here today and it has really truly been a team effort."

Oakland County is the second county after Leelanau County to reach the unofficial vaccine immunity rate, meaning 70% of its population 16 and up have received at least one dose. 

Coulter said it was done through tailored messaging for groups a bit more skeptical of the vaccine

"There’s a hesitant population - they’re leery but they're open and they just need it to be more accessible, maybe a little more convenient or they need to hear a little bit more about it," he said.  So we’ve trying to target that population and our younger people. Those populations - the younger people and the hesitant people - we're really targeting our messaging (towards)."

But the executive isn't ready to celebrate yet because mutations of COVID-19, like the Delta variant, are a big concern.

"The delta variant is certainly what they're focusing in on now. It's certainly in our county, Oakland County, and across the state. So the Delta variant is very much top of mind," he said. 

The number of cases being reported on average has risen in recent days after another 1,200 cases were reported on Friday over a three-day period. 

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State officials had hoped a statewide sweepstake awarding dozens of cash prizes including $1 million and $2 million would help move the ever-slowing needle of first dose recipients. But little evidence points to the lottery helping. 

Oakland County offered gift cards to people who got their shot. They're now ending that program now that they've hit the 70% threshold.

"It breaks my heart to think that we’re gonna have vaccines that expire here in Michigan when around the world, there are countries that don’t have their first doses of vaccines yet," Coulter said. "There are literally millions of people around the world that are eager to get a vaccine and the fact that we've gotten so hesitant about it and that they're going to expire is really just a tragedy."