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Whitmer defends “vulnerability index” as part of vaccine plan

gretchen whitmer wearing mask at podium

Governor Gretchen Whitmer had an online meeting Monday with Black business leaders. She asked for help getting the Legislature to adopt her budget plans – including COVID-19 response funding.

One of the big controversies is the use of a “social vulnerability index” to help ensure vulnerable populations get their share of vaccines. Whitmer has said that’s also critical to ensuring the most susceptible people can return to work.“We are racing to get vaccines in arms,” she said. “We are racing to do it equitably, so we are protecting communities of color and we are protecting our most vulnerable. So we are working incredibly hard. And I know every one of us wants to get back to that place where we can resume that normalcy. Me included."

Many Republicans in the Legislature oppose the Whitmer administration’s use of the index. They say it’s an effort to steer vaccines to urban areas based on factors such as poverty and race.

Whitmer said those factors play a large role in the risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

The House and the Senate are poised to vote this week on GOP alternatives to Whitmer’s budgets. The next step would be for the chambers to reconcile their versions into a single bill to send to Whitmer’s desk.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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