Livingston commissioners say the county has been left behind in vaccine distribution

Officials in Livingston County believe when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine distribution they are being left behind. They are demanding the state health department and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer change the way they decide who gets what. 

"If they would have kept their first plan, we wouldn't be having this discussion today," said county commissioner Doug Helzerman.

So far the county has received 13,000 vaccines and are still in the 1-A phase of the two-shot vaccines. The state is pitting county against county according to some Livingston County commissioners when it comes to the distribution of the limited amount of  COVID-19 vaccines.

When the pandemic hit, Livingston County was considered one of the hardest hit, but at Wednesday's special meeting many don't understand why the criteria changed and it is now at the bottom of the list.

"That the governor understands that Livingston County is as important as any other county out there," said State Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton.

Whitmer and the state health department says it follows the CDC's Social Vulnerability Index allocation of vaccines. It calculates the communities hit hardest by COVID-19 last spring, with the highest rates of risk factors, including socioeconomic status, minorities, the age range, and disability of those living in the same household and transportation.

But some spoke out saying the factors should be based on vulnerability and age.

"We're not saying we should be at the top," said District 47 Rep. Bob Bezotte, a former county commissioner. "We are just saying that based on science, and based on what our vulnerability is in Livingston County, that we should at least be in the middle of the pack somewhere we can get more vaccine distribution."

"I trust the Social Vulnerability Index," said Nancy Durance. "We have to understand that we gave them the data that is being used."

"I also believe that there is compromise and I believe this resolution asking the governor to reconsider for me, just give the 65 and older more weight than 6.25 percent," said Brenda Plank, county commissioner.

"I think it is ludicrous to suggest that this board knows more about risk than the CDC does," said Keith Van Houten. "Ignoring science and ignoring experts is exactly how we got to where we are today." 

After listening to comments from the public - the commissioners voted in favor of the resolution which asks the governor to retract the current plan and replace it with a scientific-based plan that provides vaccines to the most vulnerable population.

"For us personally, we are willing to wait a few weeks, or even more than a few weeks, to be vaccinated if that will assist those at greater risk elsewhere in the state," said Tim Upper.