Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun held a press conference to update Michiganders on the COVID-19 crisis and control the spread with the introduction of a new executive order.
Today, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-193 enacting the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission with the Department of Health and Human Services to educate Michigan residents on the safety and efficacy of an approved COVID-19 vaccine and protect the health of the citizens.
“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,” Governor Whitmer says. “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.”
Chaired by several community leaders such as Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II; Former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley; Chief Medical Executive and DHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun; Detroit Pistons player Blake Griffin; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health; SER Metro CEO Eva Dewaelsche; Soumit Pendharkar, MHA, FACHE, Health Administrator for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; Spectrum Health President & CEO Tina Freese-Decker; and Jamie Brown, Registered Nurse and President of the Michigan Nurses Association, the commission will consist of at least 50 members to help reflect Michigan’s diversity.
“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,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist says. “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.”
As the federal government gets closer to a vaccine’s approval, both Pfizer and Moderna have submitted official requests for emergency use authorization through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Both companies are looking to release their vaccines as early as this month. The two-dose vaccination will be made available, first, to frontline workers and employees of health agencies. Vaccinations for the general public are expected to de distributed in early spring 2021. Still, residents are urged to begin consulting with their healthcare provider and to continue doing their part in stopping the spread.
“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. The Protect Michigan Commission will make sure all Michiganders have the information they need to make those plans,” says Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “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.”