Michigan moves to 2nd phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, will treat elderly, essential workers

The state of Michigan is moving on to its next phase of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine announcing Wednesday that elderly residents, frontline workers, essential first responders, and teachers are now eligible for treatment.

On Jan. 11, Michigan residents age 65 and older, first responders, frontline state and federal workers, jail staff, and childcare providers will now be permitted to receive the vaccine, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on Wednesday.

"The more people we can get the safe and effective vaccine, the faster we can return to a sense of normalcy," said Governor Whitmer.

"I urge all seniors to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible and that all Michiganders to make a plan to get vaccinated when it becomes available to you," she added in a press release. "And as always: mask up, practice safe social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person. We will eliminate this virus together."

The state health department began vaccinating residents in December after the Pfizer treatment was approved. 

Since then, tens of thousands of residents have been given the first dose. However, Michigan has lagged behind most states in vaccine rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. However, on Wednesday, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said Michigan had moved into the top 5.

Furthermore, there is skepticism among many people including health care workers and emergency responders about taking the vaccine.

The second phase of vaccine distribution represents the state's gradual bolstering of vaccine administration in a year that health officials hope to inoculate more than 70% of the state's residents over the age of 16.

Currently, Michigan is still in Phase 1A. The next step will be Phase 1B, followed by Phase 1C, then Phase 2. A break down of what each phase entails is below.

  • Phase 1A: Paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home as well as residents in long term care facilities. 
  • Phase 1B: Persons 75 years of age or older and frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure.
  • Phase 1C: Individuals 16 years of age or older at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 infection and some other essential workers whose position impacts life, safety and protection during the COVID-19 response.
  • Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older.

Last Monday Monday, Jan. 4 the state surpassed 500,000 confirmed cases of the virus. The grim benchmark represents 1/20th of the state's total population that has now tested positive for a virus after the first case was reported in Michigan in March. Since then, the COVID-19 virus has wreaked havoc on the state's public health and economic groups.

Some restrictions from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are still intact through at least January 15, 2021. Indoor dining is still prohibited, nightclubs are still closed and organized indoor sports are still barred. 

Other restrictions were lifted last month, allowing casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys and in-person learning at high schools and universities to reopen and resume.


As of January 6, 2021, the state's medical director Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said health officials are continuing to see improvements - but may be seeing some plateau - in three key COVID-19 metrics in the state. 

Michigan is seeing an average of 237 cases per million people per day, which ranges from 198 cases per million people per day in the Traverse City region to 342 cases per million people per day in The Jackson region. Dr. Khaldun said these case rates have plateaued after having been clearly declining over the previous 46 days. 

The case rate is still currently two times what it was in the beginning of October. The average case rate in Michigan peaked at 739 cases per million on Nov. 14.

The percent of hospital beds being used for COVID-19 patients is continuing to decline. As of Jan. 6, the capacity was at 12.6% for beds with COVID-19 patients. This peaked at 20.1% on Dec. 1. 

The state is seeing a slight increase in test positivity, which could be attributed to a dip in testing over the holidays. As of Jan. 6, Dr. Khaldun said the percent positivity is at 9.6%, up from 8.2% on Dec. 27. 

Dr. Khaldun has said a percent positive rate below 3% indicates community spread isn't happening.