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Whitmer announces bipartisan commission to educate Michiganders on COVID-19 vaccine

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

LANSING, Mich. — On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-193 creating the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, as well as educate people.

Whitmer said the bipartisan group of leaders is uniquely equipped to help reinforce the importance of everyone getting vaccinated.

“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 said. “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.”

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Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Jorieigh Khaldun said that the most important thing every adult should be doing now is planning for how they will get the vaccine when it becomes available to them. 

“As we get closer to distributing a safe and effective vaccine, think about how you can play a role in ending this pandemic," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. "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.” 

►Watch the press conference here.

The Protect Michigan Commission will serve in an advisory capacity to Gov. Whitmer and MDHHS, and will, among other things, provide public leadership to elevate and reinforce the importance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, identify barriers that may impede the acceptance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by Michigan residents, including identifying areas or groups within this state that are likely to experience vaccine hesitancy, and develop an outreach action plan designed to overcome these barriers. 

The commission will be chaired by: 

  • 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
  • Jamie Brown, Registered Nurse and President of the Michigan Nurses Association. 

The commission will consist of at least 50 diverse members. It must complete its work and submit a brief final report to the governor by Dec. 31, 2021. 

Currently, Pfizer and Moderna have submitted requests for emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

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Dr. Khaldun said MDHHS is developing a plan to distribute the vaccine in Michigan, with a focus on the most vulnerable populations, frontline workers, and educators. The initial groups to be vaccinated will be critical workers in our health care systems, including those working in hospitals, first responders, and more.

To apply to serve on the Protect Michigan Commission, visit michigan.gov/appointments and apply by Dec. 28.


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