Fairness of COVID vaccine distribution up for debate in Michigan Legislature

Some state reps. concerned about fair COVID vaccine distribution in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prioritized frontline health care workers and those 65 years of age and older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine first.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s added use of social vulnerability as part of her vaccine distribution calculations has led to concerns about fairness among some -- especially among lawmakers, since thousands of Michiganders struggling to schedule vaccination appointments are calling legislators daily.

But state Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) says it is a life and death issue, and social vulnerability is included in the eligibility criteria for a good reason.

“Blacks are 1.9 times more likely to die, Hispanic Americans are 2.3 times more likely to die and Native Americans are 2.4 times more likely to die,” Santana said on the Senate Floor Thursday.

READ: FDA advisory panel votes to recommend Johnson & Johnson vaccine Emergency Use Authorization

Except under those protocols, Republican legislators noticed in Detroit that Mayor Mike Duggan is already looking to vaccinate young people with disabilities because his supply has been vast.

Duggan also sparred with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel over vaccine dose distribution.

READ: How does Michigan’s COVID vaccination progress compare to other states?

State Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) developed a budget amendment in the Senate’s $2 billion budget package that would eliminate Whitmer’s and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ use of the vulnerability metric.

“It further goes on to say they cannot discriminate on the basis of race, gender or ethnicity or these other factors, and it very clearly says the department shall not discriminate on the basis of race,” Barrett said.


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