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Michigan well on way to being ‘Vacc to Normal’

Michigan has done well with its vaccine push, with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announcing that 55% of residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, much more work needs to be done before we can relax.

The announcement marks the first milestone of the “MI Vacc to Normal” plan, which would enable in-person work to resume across all employment sectors on May 24.

“Everyone is eligible to get their safe, effective shots, and it’s on all of us to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” Whitmer said in a statement. “On May 24, we anticipate allowing a return to in-person work across all sectors, and as more Michiganders get vaccinated, we will continue lifting restrictions to get ‘Vacc to Normal’ safely.”

As of Monday, Michigan had administered 4,455,395 vaccines, moving the state closer to its goal of vaccinating at least 70% of Michiganders ages 16 and older as soon as possible. To date, 55% of residents have received their initial dose of the vaccine.

“The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is the most important tool we have to reduce the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, in a statement. “By getting shots in their arms as soon as possible, Michiganders can help end this pandemic as quickly as possible.

“We urge all eligible Michigan residents to make an appointment or locate a walk-in vaccine clinic to get their vaccine as soon as they are able by visiting Vaccinefinder.”

The Vacc to Normal plan uses four vaccination-based milestones that, once achieved, will help Michigan to take a step toward normalcy:

≤ 55% of Michiganders, plus two weeks for full vaccination. This allows in-person work for all sectors of business.

≤ 60% of Michiganders, plus two weeks, which increases indoor capacity at sports stadiums to 25%; increases indoor capacity at conference centers, banquet halls and funeral homes to 25%. It also increases capacity at exercise facilities and gyms to 50% and lifts the curfew on restaurants and bars.

≤ 65% of Michiganders, plus two weeks, lifting all indoor percentage capacity and requiring only social distancing between parties. It also further relaxes limits on residential social gatherings.

≤ 70% of Michiganders, plus two weeks; this lifts the Gatherings and Face Masks Order so the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will no longer employ broad mitigation measures unless unanticipated circumstances arise, such as the spread of vaccine-resistant variants.

With U.S. regulators expanding use of Pfizer’s shot to children as young as 12 on Monday, hopefully we will rise above that 70% mark even earlier than anticipated.

“This is a watershed moment in our ability to fight back the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president who’s also a pediatrician, told The Associated Press.

In addition, this can certainly offer some long-awaited relief to parents who have been vaccinated but whose children haven’t.

“I can’t feel totally comfortable because my boys aren’t vaccinated,” Carrie Vittitoe told The Associated Press.

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