State to open COVID-19 vaccines to Michiganders 50+ 

    UPS employees move one of two shipping containers containing the first shipments of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine inside a sorting facility December 13, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. The flight originated in Lansing, Michigan | Michael Clevenger - Pool/Getty Images

    State government officials announced on Wednesday that Michigan is expanding COVID-19 vaccination eligibility starting Monday. 

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is moving forward with the vaccination of Michiganders age 50 and older with medical conditions or disabilities and caregiver family members and guardians who care for children with special health care needs. Beginning March 22, vaccine eligibility will again expand to include all state residents age 50 and older. To date, more than 40% of Michiganders age 65 and older have been vaccinated, DHHS reports. 

    The effort is designed to help reach the goal of vaccinating 70% of state residents over age 16. Michigan has administered more than 2.3 million doses.

    “The more people we can get the safe and effective vaccine, the faster we can return to a sense of normalcy,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “I urge all eligible Michiganders to get one of the three COVID-19 vaccines to protect you, your family and your community. … 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.” 

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    The effort follows the announcement by President Joe Biden that ramped-up production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.   

    “We are pleased to expand eligibility for more people to get vaccinated as we continue to focus on our most vulnerable and those at highest risk of severe illness due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and DHHS chief deputy for health.

    Over the weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for adults ages 18 and older. The vaccine is deemed 85% effective in preventing severe disease. Michigan will receive 82,700 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.  

    The most recent vaccine prioritization guidance can be found on Michigan’s COVID-19 website.  

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.