Michigan officials finalizing COVID vaccine distribution plans

Vaccines estimated to be available to everyone by spring 2021

DETROIT – What happens if the COVID vaccine is given the go-ahead?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that the state is working on a distribution plan that will take effect the minute the vaccines arrive. She didn’t set definitive plans because everything is still in flux.

Dec. 10, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 421,137; Death toll now at 10,395

Whitmer said she believes Michigan will start seeing doses within a few days and wants everyone to have the opportunity to get vaccinated.

“The initial groups will be vaccinated will be critical workers and our healthcare systems, including people working in hospitals, people who are first responders and more,” Whitmer said.

Roughly 10 million people live in Michigan and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said patience is a necessity.

“Michigan will receive about 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine if it becomes available next week in that first application,” Khaldun said. “The Modena vaccine is a different vaccine that is just behind the Pfizer vaccine in the approval process.”

Michigan is expecting just under 200,000 doses. Whitmer emphasized Thursday that employers and schools will not force anyone to take the vaccine.

“I think any employer who is worried about making sure that their workforce is safe and healthy, they should be making plans, right now, for how they will encourage and or incentivize their employees to get vaccinated,” Whitmer said. “A safe, effective vaccine is the strongest tool that we have against this virus once it becomes available.”

As for the economic devastation COVID-19 has wrought, Whitmer is looking for the state Legislature.

“I look forward to working with our legislature here at the state level to send $50 million in relief to unemployed Michiganders who need it most,” Whitmer said. “While it won’t be enough, it will be a bridge to help until additional federal relief comes.”

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