by Scott McClallen
Michigan officials announced Wednesday the state will start to vaccinate a broader group of people starting Monday.
That includes Michiganders age 65 and older, frontline workers including police officers, first responders, jail and prison staff, and PreK-12 teachers and childcare providers.
The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of residents over age 16 as soon as possible.
The new phase targets those aged 65 and older, which comprises 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the state.
The phases are as follows:
- Phase 1A: Paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who could directly or indirectly expose patients and can’t work from home and residents in long-term care facilities.
- Phase 1B: Persons 75 years of age or older and frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure.
- Phase 1C: Individuals 16 years of age or older at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection and some other essential workers whose position impacts life, safety, and protection during the COVID-19 response.
- Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older.
“The more people we can get the safe and effective vaccine, the faster we can return to a sense of normalcy,” Whitmer said. “I urge all seniors to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible and that all Michiganders to make a plan to get vaccinated when it becomes available to you. And as always: mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person. We will eliminate this virus together.”
Seniors are urged to visit this website to find local health departments and other local vaccine clinics near them to book appointments.
“We are pleased to move the state forward in the next stage of vaccinations,” Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said.
“These vaccines are safe and effective, and we especially want our first responders, teachers and older adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The strategy we are announcing today is efficient, effective, and equitable, focusing on making vaccines available to those who have the highest level of risk, whether it is because of where they work or because of their age.”
Vaccine access is limited, which Whitmer blamed on the federal government.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite Michigan as seventh-worst in the nation. However, Whitmer and Michigan health officials claim the website isn’t updated with the most recent data that actually showed Michigan is in the top five states state for the percent of vaccinated residents.
That claim isn’t accurate, Crain’s Detroit Editor Chad Livengood tweeted.
“The 152K vaccinated figure @GovWhitmer cited today would put Michigan ahead of Ohio at No. 30 (20th lowest). Still not Top 5.”
The state has administered over 152,511 vaccines in the last three weeks to healthcare workers, nursing home residents, and staff.
But there are roughly 360,000 doses of the vaccines sitting in Michigan, which brought the criticism of Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township, who said Whitmer “botch[ed]” the rollout.
“The governor has shut down large portions of our local economies and stated things will open up once the vaccine is available,” Whiteford said in a statement. “Now, a vaccine is available, but she isn’t doing her due diligence to expedite the rollout.”
Vaccinations in one phase may not be complete before the next phase begins, state officials said.
This data is being tracked on the COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard.
Although cases have declined for 46 days and the COVID-19 hospitalizations are down from 19.6% to 12.6%, Whitmer didn’t loosen any restrictions. The first-term Democrat said she needed more data before making further decisions.
Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, welcomed the announcement.
“As hospitals near fulfillment of vaccinating all willing and eligible healthcare workers, now is the appropriate time to ramp up and vaccinate more Michiganders, more quickly,” Peters said in a statement. “Over 140,000 healthcare workers have already expressed their belief in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.”
School groups The K-12 Alliance of Michigan and Launch Michigan applauded the prioritization and said they look forward to returning to in-person education.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.