Michigan is expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccine to residents 16 and older with medical conditions or disabilities beginning March 22. It is part of the state’s goal to vaccinate 70 percent of Michiganders over 16.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services made the announcement on Friday, March 12. The state also announced, beginning April 5, all residents 16 and up who were not previously eligible will be eligible to receive a vaccine.
Providers are still encouraged to schedule appointments and allocate vaccinations to residents based on the highest risk, the state said.
“The safe COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective way to protect you, your family and others from the virus,” Whitmer said. “It will help the country get back to normal and help the economy. Nearly one million Michiganders of all races have already been safely vaccinated. I urge all eligible Michiganders to get one of the three COVID-19 vaccines. It is essential to getting our country back to normal, so that we can all hug our families, get back to work, go to restaurants, send our kids to school, play sports and get together again. And as always: mask up, practice safe social distancing and avoid large indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person. We will eliminate this virus together.”
“Over 2.7 million doses of the safe and effective COVID vaccines have been administered in Michigan, and we are well on our way to vaccinating 70% of Michiganders age 16 and up,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We are pleased to lay out our plan for when every Michigander age 16 and up will be able to get a vaccine. We will continue to focus our efforts on removing barriers to access for our most vulnerable to exposure and those at highest risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. These vaccines are the way we are going to end this pandemic and I urge Michiganders to make a plan to get your vaccine when you are eligible.”
All vaccine providers may begin vaccinating the new priority group of 16 to 49 with medical conditions or disabilities by March 22. The state health department is accelerating vaccination of these individuals due to concern around disparity in life expectancy.
“Based on the anticipated amount of vaccines becoming available to the state and President Biden’s directive that all adults should be eligible by May 1 , Michigan has decided to move forward with allowing all Michiganders who were not previously eligible to begin receiving vaccine on Monday, April 5. As providers are scheduling appointments, they should consider an individual’s risk of exposure due to their employment and their vulnerability to severe disease in determining how to schedule appointments. It is anticipated that it may still take several weeks beyond April 5 for everyone who wishes to receive a vaccine to have an appointment,” the state said.
The Saginaw County Health Department said it is prepared to respond to accelerated vaccine eligibility. It said its new registration process will enhance efforts greatly.
“We will continue to focus on current priority groups over the next three weeks and will open up eligibility and registration for everyone 16 and older on April 5 per the state’s new priority guidance,” said Christina Harrington, health officer for the Saginaw County Health Department. “Public health is going to keep doing what public health does! We’re going to keep vaccinating our community.”
Harrington wants to remind residents eligibility does not mean availability.
“We are optimistic about the growing number of doses coming to Saginaw County, so we will continue to work with our vaccine partners to move as quickly as possible to get whatever doses we receive into arms," she said.