Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces Protect Michigan Commission to improve vaccine awareness

The state of Michigan has formed a bipartisan commission made up of former and current state and medical leaders designed to raise awareness about the coming vaccine to help protect against COVID-19.

With two promising vaccine candidates awaiting approval from the federal government, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is pivoting toward inoculating Michigan residents against the virus.

“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. That’s what the Protect Michigan Commission is all about,” said Gov. Whitmer

Earlier this week, Whitmer and her health chief laid out the state's vaccine rollout plan, which includes bolstering hospital capabilities for storing the treatment and prioritizing health care workers and those most vulnerable.

A close-up of a syringe containing a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as it is given to a patient at Cardiff and Vale Therapy Centre on December 8, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales.

Michigan will be one of the first states to receive doses of the vaccine, which is expected to first come from Pfizer and then from Moderna. It's expected to receive 84,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine if it's approved by next week. The federal government also estimates 173,000 doses from Moderna to come to Michigan

Khaldun says estimates of a vaccine becoming more available to less-affected populations should be in the spring of 2021. 

However, recent surveys show that about half of Americans plan on getting the vaccine - well below the necessary threshold for achieving herd immunity that would render the coronavirus less dangerous to the country.

RELATED: Michigan's medical director lays out plan for vaccine distribution in the state

That's where the Protect Michigan Commission comes in, which includes Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, and Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin.

“If we’re going to ensure that everyone in our state has the information they need to get a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, we must all work together as Michiganders,” said Calley.

“I’m honored to have Governor Whitmer call on me to serve on the Protect Michigan Commission and look forward to working with the other co-chairs to raise awareness for how a safe and effective vaccine can help end the coronavirus pandemic,” said Detroit Pistons player Blake Griffin.

The commission will advise Whitmer and the health department on best practices for overcoming barriers that might impede the acceptance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine and identifying populations hesitant of taking the vaccine.

The United Kingdom was the first country to start administering the vaccine when it began administering it this last Monday.