COVID vaccination distribution challenged

By David Fleet
An area lawmaker said, “no thank you” when offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
State Rep. Mike Mueller vowed to make sure all his constituents have access to a vaccine before he himself considers getting one.
“I hear from people in our communities each and every day who are desperately trying to get access to a vaccine for themselves or a vulnerable loved one,” said Mueller (R-Linden) 51st District which includes Atlas and Groveland townships. “I will not put myself before them.”

Mueller, 46, and in good health said, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has not been distributing vaccines fairly to communities across the state due to a directive from the Whitmer administration requiring vaccine shipments to be weighted toward counties based on a “social vulnerability index.”
The use of this system increases the proportion of vaccine going to other Michigan counties and ranks Oakland County toward the bottom, he said.
This week, Mueller expressed frustration in the Whitmer administration’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan and called on the governor to focus on fixing the problems with the state’s system.
The “social vulnerability index” includes some sensible factors such as population aged 65 and older. It also includes multiple other factors such as percentage of residents with high school diplomas, vehicle ownership, single parent households and ability to speak English.
“The science clearly shows that senior citizens are more vulnerable to experiencing critical symptoms from this virus,” Mueller said. “We should not be running into situations where vulnerable seniors and health care workers in one Michigan community are being turned away and another community has plenty of doses for people who are much less vulnerable.”
Whitmer addressed the vaccination concerns in her recent State of the State address, saying a lack of supply is the issue.
“We are now in the second wave of distributing safe, effective vaccines. Michigan has administered over 800,000 vaccines, which makes us sixth in the nation,” she said.
The number of vaccines we have administered has surpassed the number of recorded cases in Michigan,” she said.
“I know people are anxious and ready to get the vaccine. That’s a good thing. The fact of the matter is: we don’t have the supply we need yet, but we will – and the good news is that we do have a plan to get 50,000 shots in arms per day when the supply comes in.”
“Every eligible Michigander who wants a vaccine will get one,” said Whitmer. “This process is like a locomotive – it will be cumbersome and slow in the beginning, but it will get faster and smoother as we go.”

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