Michigan has now vaccinated more than 70,000 people in the fight against COVID-19, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state’s top health official, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, said on Tuesday.
The state started vaccinating health care workers earlier this month, and residents of long-term care facilities this week.
Whitmer admitted the vaccine roll-out has been somewhat slower than expected. Like many states, Michigan has received far more vaccine doses than it’s administered—more than 278,000 of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, according to the state’s dashboard.
Whitmer said that Michigan is “not unique” in having some “initial struggles” with getting a distribution system up and running.
“Every state in the nation is dealing with building up an apparatus to get vaccines disseminated as quickly as possible. But with a federal government that still doesn’t have a reliable, regular administration and plan for getting vaccines to the states,” Whitmer said.
Meanwhile, state officials are “working all hours of the day building upon what we do get from the federal government,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer and Khaldun said it’s crucial for the state to suppress COVID-19 cases as much as possible while the vaccination program rolls out. Cases are trending down, but Khaldun warned people not to get complacent.
Khaldun said it will be at least several months before the state can administer vaccines to everyone who wants one. She said she understands that some people are hesitant about getting the shot—and “that’s ok.” But she’s confident the vaccines are safe, with a robust national tracking system for adverse reactions.
Khaldun said unless people have experienced adverse reactions to vaccines in the past, there’s likely little to worry about. “The stakes are just too high for us to not take this opportunity to save ourselves,” she said. “And this is particularly important in communities of color that have been hit especially hard by this pandemic.”