All Michiganders 16 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5
Every Michigander 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in April, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state health department said Friday.
Starting March 22, anyone 16 and up with a qualifying medical condition will also be eligible.
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The news is the latest effort to rapidly expand vaccine eligibility, with the ultimate goal of inoculating enough people in the state to find some normalcy at some point this year.
“The safe COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective way to protect you, your family and others from the virus,” Whitmer said in a news release.
"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.”
Right now, Michiganders 65 and up are eligible for vaccines. Those ages 50 to 64 with a preexisting condition are eligible as well. Starting March 22, anyone 50 or older is eligible.
As of this week, more than 1 million Michigan residents have been fully vaccinated. That's about 12.5% of the population that the state wants to vaccinate. The state is aiming to vaccinate at least 70% of all residents 16 and older by the end of the year.
"As providers are scheduling appointments, they should consider an individual’s risk of exposure due to their employment and their vulnerability to severe disease in determining how to schedule appointments," says a news release from the state.
"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."
Demand continues to outpace supply for the vaccine, so the state urges patience.
Underlying medical conditions that would allow anyone 16 or older to be eligible for the vaccine March 22 include:
- Asthma (moderate to severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Diabetes (Type 1 or 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune-weakening medicines)
- Liver disease
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Obesity or severe obesity
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Sickle cell disease
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
Those who are eligible are encouraged to check the website of their local health department or hospital system, contact their local pharmacy or call the state hotline. The number is 888-535-6136 (press 1) and will be staffed from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Thursday night, President Joe Biden announced that every American adult will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, and that with a ramped-up supply of vaccines, there’ll be enough doses for all U.S. adults by the end of May.
“We're making progress, but there's more work to do,” Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during a Friday morning news briefing. “Last night, Americans heard the president say that … all of us need to do our part, and that if we do, there's a good chance that families and friends will be able to safely gather in small groups to celebrate Independence Day,” he said.
To get there, Zients said, all states, tribes and territories are being directed to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines no later than May 1.
“That's earlier than expected,” Zients said, “and reflects our success working with vaccine manufacturers to increase supplies and secure doses for all adult Americans, and also our progress in increasing both the number of vaccinators and the number of places that people can get vaccinated.”
Ford Field, home to the Detroit Lions, will be among 20 federally run mass vaccination sites opening by March 24, Zients said. As many as 6,000 people a day will be able to get vaccinated there.
“We need to make it easier for every American to get vaccinated,” Zients said. “Too often, it's too difficult, too time consuming and too frustrating for people to identify where vaccines are available and where to schedule an appointment."
By May 1, as vaccines become available in more places, the administration will launch a federally supported website that will show the locations that have available vaccines.
“Because we know that not everyone has internet access or is comfortable online, we will also launch a call center to provide assistance in finding a vaccine. Since so many Americans use their state and local websites to schedule vaccine appointments, the administration will also deploy technology teams to help to improve these systems," Zients said.
In addition, the federal government plans to deliver COVID-19 vaccines directly to 700 additional community health centers in underserved communities across the nation, bringing the total to 950, and double the number of pharmacies participating in the federal vaccine program, Zients said.
“We will make the vaccine available at more than 20,000 pharmacies across America and the administration is instructing these pharmacies to expand mobile operations into the hardest-hit communities to reach more people,” he said.
Contact Dave Boucher: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.