Whitmer open to taking Johnson & Johnson vaccine, encourages Detroiters to be

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she's going to take whatever vaccine she can get, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and is encouraging Detroiters to do the same.

Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union with Jake Tapper," Whitmer called all three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson — "safe and effective." 

"I will get whatever vaccine is available to me because they all have high efficacy, they're all incredibly safe, and the quicker we can get to 70% of our population vaccinated, the quicker we can have some more normalcy in our day to day lives," Whitmer said.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan faced criticism Tuesday for initially declining more than 6,000 doses of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine because he said it would make more sense to use the single-dose vaccine in rural areas.

But on Thursday Dugan said the city would administer future shipments of the vaccine, should there be a need for it.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Whitmer commended Duggan on Sunday for his "phenomenal work" in Detroit and said he's "trying to do the best he can."

"I think acknowledging that this J&J vaccine is another great tool in our arsenal is kind of where they (the city of Detroit) are now and then deploying them is something they're going to do as well so that's our philosophy across the state," Whitmer said.

As the state reported about one third of Michigan COVID-19 deaths were in nursing homes, the Detroit News Editorial Board called for the release of all coronavirus data related to nursing homes

In response Sunday, Whitmer said her administration has released "an incredible amount" of virus data and that they've followed the federal requirements throughout the pandemic. 

Michigan was one of a few states that allowed COVID-positive patients into quarantined rooms in nursing homes with healthy populations. 

"When you look at Michigan compared to other states, our nursing homes deaths are less than most," Whitmer said. "AARP has acknowledged that and the University of Michigan put out a study that shows our policies in that space actually saved a lot of lives. We've been very focused on helping our nursing homes and residents of nursing homes."

Whitmer was also asked about the allegations of sexual harassment made against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — a fellow Democratic governor who has also faced criticism for his COVID-19 nursing home policies.

Whitmer said the claims were "gut wrenching" and needed to be investigated. 

"I think that these are serious allegations and if accurate and true, I think we have to take action, but we also need to make sure that there's that thorough investigation," she said.