Officials: Michigan virus vaccine rollout on track, federal help coming

Michigan officials are confident that new Biden administration will help hasten vaccine rollout

State officials: Michigann is on right track, federal help is on the way

Though the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine has lagged behind expectations in Michigan and across the country, Michigan officials say they think the state is currently on the right track.

During a news conference on Friday, Michigan’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun outlined the state’s vaccine distribution progress so far.

“I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve made in the state. With over 598,000 doses of the COVID-19 safe and effective vaccine going in arms,” Khaldun said. “In fact, Michigan has jumped, more than 20 spaces in the past two weeks.”

Read more: MDHHS announces next COVID order, revising rules for Michigan restaurants, stadiums, gatherings

Michigan’s COVID vaccination rate is somewhere in the middle compared to the rest of the country, with about 4.2 percent of the state’s population receiving at least one of the required two doses. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that the state’s goal is to vaccinate 50,000 Michigan residents every day -- but as of right now, the state is only receiving about 60,000 doses each week.

“That’s our universal frustration. We have the capacity and the plan to do a lot more vaccinations quicker,” Whitmer said during the news conference Friday. “But the federal government’s been hard. They have not gotten us what we need.”

Whitmer did praise the new Biden administration’s use of the Defense Production Authorization Act to ramp up vaccine production -- though there’s no telling how effective the order may be.

“I have been calling on the federal government to take this action for quite a while,” Whitmer said. “I’m happy that President Biden recognizes the importance and knows that we cannot end this pandemic unless we work together.”

More: Biden signs burst of virus orders, vows ‘Help is on the way’

As of Friday night, it’s still unclear whether Michigan will be allowed to buy 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as previously requested by Gov. Whitmer. That request needs federal approval.

Republicans were quick to point out on Friday that former President Trump also invoked the Defense Production Act to more rapidly produce equipment like syringes and needles needed to get the vaccine out faster.

Another concern recently reached the state: A new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus has so far been identified in three Michigan residents living in Washtenaw County. Khaldun said Friday, however, that the vaccine does appear to be effective against the coronavirus variant.

Related: Michigan health officials concerned over COVID variants

About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.