DETROIT (WXYZ) — Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun says the CDC told her during a call this week that Michigan had the 5th highest percentage of the population vaccinated in the nation.
So far, just over 150,000 people in the healthcare industry, first responders, and those in long-term care facilities have been vaccinated.
However, as the state prepares to expand who is eligible we are already seeing what some call disturbing disparities.
On the Detroit Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard you can see 1,706 Detroiter’s have lost their lives to COVID-19 accounting for a staggering 13% of the state’s approximately 13,000 deaths.
It is the hardest hit community in the state, and there has been a lot of talk about how poverty, access to health care, and other inequities cost people their lives.
When WXYZ looked at the numbers of people vaccinated in the state and in metro-Detroit counties, Detroit’s number stood out. We calculated the percentage of people vaccinated in the state and in different communities in metro-Detroit in relation to the population. Statewide about 1.5% of the population has been vaccinated.
Most metro-Detroit counties have similar rates. However, in Detroit, only about 0.25% of people have been vaccinated.
We asked Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan) what could be behind the disparities.
“I think we have some really aggressive strategies to ramping up vaccinations for Detroiters,” said Gov. Whitmer.
“I have been in regular communications with the Detroit Health Department,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive. “We met with the mayor and we are looking to help them expand their capacity as much as possible.”
City officials in the mayor’s office say right now the city is limited in what it can do because it has received a small number of vaccines. It is working with the state to ensure more are obtained.
“There are already established health care disparities in urban and minority communities,” said Bishop Edgar Vann, Second Ebenezer Church.
Bishop Edgar Vann says he believes the disparity is caused by a combination of issues. He wants to see more vaccines offered to Detroiters. He wants to see education. He also said there is mistrust in the community of the vaccine due to history and that deliberate action needs to address it.
“It won’t be a rush to take the vaccine in Detroit until people are comfortable with it and I hope people in leadership and the pharmaceutical industry understand it is going to take resources in our community to address every one of those things,” said Bishop Vann.