State Rep. Mike Mueller this week 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.
Mueller, of Linden, 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.
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.”
Mueller said bringing more oversight and accountability to the state’s vaccination program will be a priority as the Legislature continues work on our COVID-19 relief plan.
Under the recovery plan approved by the House this month, public tax dollars for vaccine distribution would be allocated quarterly as needed – rather than all at once – to allow more legislative review of the process and ensure funds are used properly. The Legislature approved more than $50 million for vaccine distribution in December. This new plan provides an additional initial investment of $22 million for vaccine distribution immediately, and an additional $144 million for COVID testing. Other resources would be held in reserve for when they are needed.
Mueller also 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,” Mueller said. “I will not put myself before them.”
Rep. Mueller, a retired deputy sheriff in both Washtenaw and Livingston counties, speaks at a Capitol press conference Thursday on a plan to support local law enforcement and improve public safety. Rep. Mueller says access to mental health services for police, corrections workers and other first responders is key.