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Feds rank Michigan low in COVID-19 vaccination rates

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Data posted by the CDC on Wednesday show that 35 states have administered more vaccine doses than Michigan, despite state officials' claims on Wednesday that the state ranks 11th for the number of initial shots given.  

At a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's chief medical executive, said she'd spoken with the CDC just moments before and was told that the state ranked 5th-best in the state for the number of vaccines administered. But that ranking wasn't borne out in the numbers posted by the CDC Wednesday night.  

A healthcare worker receives a second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot at Beaumont Health in Southfield, Mich., Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.

In a press release late Wednesday, state officials noted that the data posted on the CDC's COVID data tracker website showed that 124,689 had been administered in Michigan, placing Michigan behind 10 other states for the number of "shots in arms."

But when population size is considered, Michigan's rate of administering first doses of vaccine was 1,249 per 100,000 people, according to the CDC's data — placing Michigan behind 35 other states when it comes to administering vaccines.  

But state officials argue their numbers are more up to date and show Michigan has administered more than 150,000 doses.

The administration of COVID-19 vaccines has been problematic across the United States, where only a third of the doses shipped to states so far have been injected into arms.  

According to the most recent data from the CDC, 17,288,950 doses have been shipped to states, but only 5,306,797 have been administered — a rate of about 30%. 

"We didn’t expect the rollout would be so slow," said Tinglong Dai, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School and an expert on medical supply chain issues.  "This speed is just not forgivable."  

The ratio of vaccines received to those administered is lower in Michigan — about 23% — than the national average, according to the state's own data. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard shows that of 665,850 doses received by the state, 152,511 have been injected into people as of Thursday.

According to CDC data, the Mitten State lags all others in the Great Lakes region with its rate of 1,249 first doses per 100,000 people. By comparison, Indiana is administering first doses at a rate of 1,661 people per 100,000, Ohio at the rate of 1,503 per 100,000, Illinois at 1,497, Pennsylvania at 1,401 and Wisconsin at 1,257 shots per 100,000 people.

The numbers posted by the CDC late Wednesday showed an improvement since Tuesday, when The Detroit News reported that Michigan had the sixth-worst COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country, based on the rate of 992 vaccinations per 100,000 people that was posted at that time.  

State health officials have argued that numbers posted on the CDC's COVID Data Tracker misrepresent what's happening on the ground in Michigan, because of a lag in the time it takes for the CDC to post numbers it receives from the states.

In its late Wednesday press release, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services noted that Michigan’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, which is updated frequently, shows 152,511 doses administered in the state so far.

The release said Michigan's COVID-19 vaccination rate of 1,249 vaccinations per 100,000 people would be higher if the real-time number of 152,511 doses was used in the calculation, rather than the outdated number that appears on the CDC website.

But it's impossible to know how the rankings would shake out if real-time numbers were substituted for all of the states. 

"Using Michigan’s dashboard number, this would increase to 1,525 per 100,000," MDHHS said in its press release.

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN