Michigan residents aged 16 and older with disabilities or medical conditions that put them at risk of negative COVID-19 outcomes will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 22, according to an announcement Friday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). On April 5, the state will expand vaccine eligibility for all residents 16 and older.
Providers are encouraged to schedule appointments and allocate doses based on the highest risk patients, including older residents, frontline and essential workers, the release said. According to the Michigan COVID-19 Vaccination Implementation Schedule, the first priority for distribution were emergency health care workers, with those in long-term care facilities and nursing homes following shortly after. The second phase opened up distribution to those 75 years of age and older, frontline essential workers and residents in congregate settings.
“The safe COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective way to protect you, your family and others from the virus,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in the release. “It will help the country get back to normal and help the economy. Nearly one million Michiganders of all races have already been safely vaccinated. I urge all eligible Michiganders to get one of the three COVID-19 vaccines. It is essential to getting our country back to normal, so that we can all hug our families, get back to work, go to restaurants, send our kids to school, play sports and get together again. 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.”
As of March 10, Michigan had administered a total 2.7 million doses, with 21% of those aged 16 and older having at least one dose of the vaccine. The state’s goal remains to vaccinate 70% of all residents.
“We are pleased to lay out our plan for when every Michigander age 16 and up will be able to get a vaccine," Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a release. "We will continue to focus our efforts on removing barriers to access for our most vulnerable to exposure and those at highest risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. These vaccines are the way we are going to end this pandemic and I urge Michiganders to make a plan to get your vaccine when you are eligible."
The MDHHS is accelerating vaccination of those 16-49 years of age with underlying medical risks following concern around disparity in life expectancy, hoping to remove barriers to vaccine access, the release states. The decision to move forward with vaccinating all Michigan residents beginning April 5 follows President Joe Biden’s directive that all adults should be eligible by May 1.
While vaccine supplies are increasing, there is still a limited amount and may be a waitlist for available appointments, the release states. As more vaccine becomes available, the state will move more quickly through the priority groups.
Medical conditions that place individuals at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 are eligible for vaccination and include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2 )
- Severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
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Residents should still continue to practice social distancing and wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 until the vast majority has been vaccinated, the release states.
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