Gov. Whitmer Creates Committee to Encourage Michiganders to Get COVID Vaccine
LANSING - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday a bipartisan commission that aims to educate Michigan residents on the COVID-19 vaccine. The program is called Protect Michigan.
The commission is representative of the diversity in Michigan and will be made up of at least 50 members. It will be chaired by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II; Former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley; Chief Medical Executive and DHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun; Detroit Pistons player Blake Griffin; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health; SER Metro CEO Eva Dewaelsche; Soumit Pendharkar, MHA, FACHE, Health Administrator for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; Spectrum Health President & CEO Tina Freese-Decker; and Jamie Brown, Registered Nurse and President of the Michigan Nurses Association.
“This year, we have confronted some of the greatest challenges of our generation, and, in every moment, Michiganders have risen to meet these challenges head-on,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist said. “With a safe and effective vaccine on the horizon, the Protect Michigan Commission is bringing our state together once again to ensure that every Michigander has the information and resources they need to get vaccinated at the appropriate time. Our clearest path to healthy communities, a growing economy, and kids learning in their classrooms is through this vaccine.
The commission will serve in an advisory capacity to the Governor and the Department of Health and Human Services and will be charged with reinforcing the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine as well as developing an outreach plan designed to overcome barriers when it comes to the hesitancy of getting the vaccine.
The Governor, along with Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, announced that a plan for how to distribute the vaccine in Michigan is in the works but said that critical workers in the healthcare system as well as first responders will be among the first group to get the vaccine.
Khaldun said that Michigan is supposed to receive 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine if it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration within the week. If the Moderna vaccine is approved this month, federal estimates suggests that it will receive about 173,000 doses of the vaccine in the first shipment.
“The amount and the timing of these shipments could still change but we are still making plans to send vaccines to hospitals and local health departments across that have the ability to administer and store them,” Khaldun said.
Khaldun said that the more vaccines that are received overtime, the more people can receive the vaccine and urged residents to start planning on how to get it.
“We hope that by late spring we will be able to offer the vaccine to the general public,” Khaldun said. “It is important that every adult in the state starts making plans for getting the vaccine.”