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Dr. Joneigh Khaldun of MDHHS testifies on Michigan vaccinations

February 2, 2021
<p>Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun speaks at a press conference for a COVID-19 update on Nov. 19, 2020. Courtesy of Michigan Executive Office of the Governor</p>

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun speaks at a press conference for a COVID-19 update on Nov. 19, 2020. Courtesy of Michigan Executive Office of the Governor

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun testified to Congress on Feb. 2, as COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues to slowly unfold.

Khaldun testified to the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee about Michigan's vaccination efforts, federal needs and the state's work to speed up vaccine distribution without compromising equity. She laid out the goals regarding vaccination strategy, which center around the following:

  • 70% of Michiganders age 16 and up vaccinated as quickly as possible.
  • 90% of received vaccines are administered within seven days.
  • 95% of people get their second dose of vaccine within the expected time frame.
  • No disparity exists in vaccination rates across racial and ethnic groups or by social vulnerability index.
  • No one has to drive more than 20 minutes to reach a vaccination site.

Recently, state allocations were announced to increase by 16%, and states would have a three week visibility into allocations, allowing them to increase planning efforts.

At the county level, health officials are hindered on their planning ability, as weekly allocations are exhausted before they can receive more, and shipments have not been guaranteed.

Khaldun also said she was glad to hear that the Biden administration agreed to purchase 200 million more doses and invoked the Defense Production Act to create more supplies such as personal protective equipment.

Khaldun also called on the federal government to bear the responsibility of creating public trust in the vaccine.

"States need the federal government to amplify the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and restore public trust in our institutions," Khaldun said. "This includes messaging to historically marginalized communities and populations distrustful of the government, in part based on our country’s history of scientific experimentation on vulnerable populations, but also due to the ongoing implicit and explicit bias that exists in the healthcare system."

As of Feb. 1, Michigan has administered more than 1 million total doses of first and second doses of vaccine, according to an MDHHS press release.

“Now, with two safe and effective vaccines ... and additional vaccines on the horizon, Michigan is working to distribute the vaccine quickly, efficiently and equitably to the nearly 10 million residents across the state," Khaldun said. "Like many other states, Michigan’s single biggest challenge with the vaccine rollout has been the limited supply of vaccine available week to week and the lack of a national federal strategy until now."

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