MICHIGAN — Michigan officials are working on a plan to distribute a pair of vaccines for the coronavirus once they arrive in the state, health authorities said during a news conference Thursday.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that in preparation to distribute the vaccine, the state has created a bipartisan commission that will work to raise awareness on the safety and effectiveness of approved COVID-19 vaccines.
“Right now, we are on the brink of great breakthroughs when it comes to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, and we must begin to educate Michiganders about how important it is that we all get vaccinated so we can eradicate this virus once and for all,” Whitmer said. “That’s what the Protect Michigan Commission is all about. This bipartisan group of leaders is uniquely equipped to help reinforce the importance of everyone getting vaccinated. Until we eliminate COVID-19 once and for all, we must continue to wear masks, practice safe social distancing, and wash hands frequently. Let’s all continue to do our part.”
Don’t miss important updates from health and government officials on the impact of the coronavirus in Michigan. Sign up for Patch’s daily newsletters and email alerts.
The commission will be co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun and Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin, among others, Whitmer said, and will consist of at least 50 members that will represent the great diversity of our state.
The Protect Michigan Commission will serve in an advisory capacity to Whitmer and the state health department, officials added. It will, among other things, provide public leadership to reinforce the importance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, identify barriers that may impede the acceptance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by Michigan residents, including identifying areas or groups within this state that are likely to experience vaccine hesitancy and develop an outreach action plan designed to overcome these barriers, officials said.
“This year, we have confronted some of the greatest challenges of our generation, and, in every moment, Michiganders have risen to meet these challenges head-on,” Gilchrist said. “With a safe and effective vaccine on the horizon, the Protect Michigan Commission is bringing our state together once again to ensure that every Michigander has the information and resources they need to get vaccinated at the appropriate time. Our clearest path to healthy communities, a growing economy, and kids learning in their classrooms is through this vaccine.”
The commission must complete its work and submit a brief final report to the governor by Dec. 31, 2021.
Pfizer and Moderna have submitted requests for emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Khaldun said she is estimating that the state will receive 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 and about 173,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Khaldun said her team will focus on the most vulnerable populations, frontline workers and educators in its distribution plan. The initial groups to be vaccinated will be critical workers in our health care systems, including those working in hospitals, first responders, and more, officials said.
“One of the most important things every adult should be doing now is planning for how they will get the vaccine when it becomes available to them,” Khaldun said. “The Protect Michigan Commission will make sure all Michiganders have the information they need to make those plans,” Khaldun said. “As we get closer to distributing a safe and effective vaccine, think about how you can play a role in ending this pandemic. Wear your mask now so you can prevent the spread, and avoid indoor gatherings. 2021 will be the year when Michigan beats back this pandemic, we just have to stay the course.”
This article originally appeared on the Detroit Patch