Everyone Over 16 Will Be COVID Vaccine-Eligible April 5
March 16, 2021
By April 5, every Michigander aged 16 and older will be allowed to get a COVID vaccine, the state announced Friday.
The expanded vaccine access comes after President Joe Biden said in a speech Thursday that he’d ask states to open eligibility to everyone by May 1, with the goal to get the nation “closer to normal” by July 4.
That directive, as well as the anticipated number of vaccines becoming available to the state, is why the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said it’s moving forward to allow everyone else not previously eligible to become eligible on April 5.
But first, everyone 16 and older with disabilities or those who have medical conditions that could result in a bad bout with COVID will be eligible March 22, the same day the state previously announced everyone 50 and over can have access to the vaccine.
The DHHS said they’re accelerating vaccination of the 16-49 priority group due to concern around disparity in life expectancy and in an effort to remove barriers to vaccine access.
Vaccine providers should still schedule appointments and allocate vaccinations to residents based on highest risk, including older residents, essential workers, and frontline workers, the DHHS said, and the department added that it is “anticipated that it may still take several weeks beyond April 5 for everyone who wishes to receive a vaccine to have an appointment.”
Asked whether they were ready to vaccinate the expanded population, John Karasinski, spokesperson for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, said, “Hospitals and health systems, in partnership with the local health departments and other providers, have the capacity to vaccinate many more Michiganders if given additional vaccine supply.”
Bobby Mukkamala, president of the Michigan State Medical Society, applauded the expansion of vaccine access and said Friday that primary care physicians “must be allowed to be involved in the important work of vaccination distribution, especially now as more and more residents become eligible.”
According to the state’s dashboard, 23% of the eligible population 16 and older are vaccinated at this point or 1.8 million people. Yet earlier Friday, the state had displayed 12.5%, or a little more than 1 million people were vaccinated, even after the number displayed Wednesday was 21% covered. The DHHS did not respond to a request for comment about the data.
Michigan has also already set in motion vaccine access for people age 50 and older with medical conditions or disabilities, as well as caregiver family members and guardians who care for children with special health care needs, which began March 8.
In other vaccination news, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that Ford Field will play host as a mass vaccination site for eight weeks with the ability to administer 6,000 doses a day starting March 24.
The governor’s office said the Biden administration, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), selected southeast Michigan for this major new community vaccination site, which was done in accordance with the federal government’s priority tool to help those hardest hit and most vulnerable.
The mass vaccination site at Ford Field will operate from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., seven days a week, for eight weeks under the federal government’s vaccination pilot program and will be managed by the state with support from FEMA, Wayne County, Detroit, Ford Field, Meijer, Henry Ford Health System and the Lions.
Dr. Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, said Friday that “President Biden has assured us that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the hard work that he and Governor Whitmer are doing is bringing that light closer.”
The news of expanded vaccination eligibility led the Michigan Democratic Party Friday to issue a fundraising email with the subject line “BIG NEWS: An important vaccine announcement” and urging readers that “if we want to build on today’s extraordinary news, we can’t count on Republicans to put the people before their partisan agenda; we must flip the Michigan Legislature.”
As for the COVID numbers Friday, the state added 2,403 more confirmed cases and seven deaths, to bring statewide cumulative totals to 605,778 cases and 15,736 deaths.