LANSING, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Michigan says all residents age 16 and up will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 5, nearly a month before the May 1 date pledged by President Joe Biden.
People age 16 to 49 with certain medical conditions or disabilities will qualify starting March 22.
Two days later, March 24, a regional mass vaccination site will open at Detroit’s Ford Field to administer an additional 6,000 doses every day for two months. Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist told News 8 Friday that the shots given at the clinic will be in addition to the state’s regular allocation of doses.
“I think it’s going to be a really important tool in our COVID response toolbox,” Gilchrist said in a Zoom call. “There will be 6,000 doses administered a day, seven days a week, for eight weeks, is the start of that pilot program.”
He said the Ford Field site and other large mass vaccination sites in cities around the state should also help ensure that the most at-risk minority groups can access shots.
“The efforts Michigan has put forward to equitably distribute the COVID-19 vaccine was the no. 1 reason why the federal government chose the state of Michigan for this mass vaccination site at Ford Field,” Gilchrist said. “It’s because we have focused on using the social vulnerability index from the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). These vaccines will be distributed and allocated from that site starting with that most vulnerable population.”
He said since the state first started releasing race data about vaccination rates, the rate of people of color getting the shots has doubled.
The U.S. is expecting to have enough doses for adults by the end of May, but the process of actually administering doses will take time.
“The vaccine and people making the choice to get vaccinated and following through on getting vaccinated, that will pave our pathway through this pandemic,” Gilchrist said. “We are so close… I think we’re rounding third base. And so it is up to us to make sure that we execute on this vaccine distribution and it’s up to us make sure that the people of Michigan have the information and the resources they need, and the trust they need, to make the choice to get vaccinated.”
He said the only movement now can be forward, “towards being able to do things we miss and love,” like seeing loved ones in person.
“Our opportunities, though, rest in people making the choice to get this vaccine so we can move forward together,” Gilchrist said.
In West Michigan, the Kent County Health Department announced it has received an additional 2,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for vulnerable populations ages 50 years and older. In the next two weeks, the 2,500 vaccines will be given to eight community clinics in zip codes 49503, 49507 and 49509.
The outreach effort will focus on those 50 years or older in the Latino and African American communities, those experiencing homelessness, staying in shelters or have mobility issues or cognitive impairments.