Michigan lawmakers frustrated with vaccine rollout as most vulnerable struggle to get vaccinated

People 60-years-old and older account for 24% of the COVID cases in Michigan but are 90% of the confirmed deaths.

Michigan lawmakers frustrated with vaccine rollout as most vulnerable struggle to get vaccinated

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – In early January, Florida welcomed snowbirds and distributed vaccines.

Ann Mapes is a Michigan senior who didn’t need to show identification, she was just asked to roll up her sleeve.

“I hit the lottery,” Mapes said. “I was overjoyed through the whole thing. I came really close to crying. I assumed I wouldn’t get it until March or April.”

Feb. 4, 2021: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 565,251; Death toll now at 14,778

Rep. Debbie Dingell’s district -- Michigan’s 12th congressional district -- is full of those most vulnerable to COVID. You can almost feel how frustrated she is, coming to tears hearing from senior after senior in Wayne and Washtenaw counties that there are no coronavirus vaccine doses for them.

“I am hearing from everyone,” Dingell said. “I am supposed to know what I am doing. I see problems, I try to fix them. Yesterday, I sat down and cried. We have to make the system work for everybody.”

READ: Tracking COVID-19 cases, deaths by Michigan county

The only local county leader to speak with the Local 4 Defenders was Macomb County executive Mark Hackel.

“The state made a bad decision here by having seniors compete with people,” Hackel said.

Macomb County has 165,000 people over the age of 65. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opened the state to Phase 1B to include more people, the number of Macomb County Reisdents eligible to be vaccinated jumped to 265,000.

Where are the doses? The state sent Macomb County 7,200 doses this week -- enough to last the county two days, Hackel said.

Hackel said he wants the state to focus on the senior population to make sure they’re safe.

“There is not a central communication. They don’t know who to call, how to call,” Dingell said. “We need to be clearer doing that.”

READ: Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.