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Michigan to get more vaccine after Trump officials decide to release second doses

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

The Trump administration will release additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to states across the nation as it directs its agencies to no longer hold back the second dose of the two-shot vaccines and open vaccination to those over 65. 

Michigan opened vaccination to those over 65 on Monday, but the federal government's release of the second doses is expected to infuse the state with more vaccine availability after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged the federal government for more.

With more than 2.5 million Michigan residents now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, there isn't enough available to vaccinate everyone who qualifies, state health officials said Tuesday. Health agencies across the state and other outlets were overwhelmed by demand for the vaccine on Monday.

“We now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available for people from ongoing production,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday.

“So everything is now available to our states and our health care providers,” he said. 

Whitmer claimed the distribution of the vaccines was in part due to a request from her administration and eight other governors to release the additional vaccines being held back from distribution to the states. 

Publicly reported information indicated about 50% of produced vaccines were being held back for "reasons unknown," the governor said. Azar appeared to indicate most of those were held back for second doses. 

“It will take all of us — the federal government, state and local leaders, health departments, and everyday Americans — to ensure everyone can get the safe and effective vaccine," Whitmer said in a statement. 

The governor asked the federal government permission Monday to buy 100,000 doses of the vaccine directly from producers in a bid to speed distribution. 

"I am eager to hear back from the federal government regarding my request, and will continue to work with them and leaders everywhere to end this pandemic and save lives," she said. 

On Monday, Michigan began distributing the vaccine outside of healthcare and long-term care workers and residents to include people over the age of 65, frontline essential workers, first responders, correctional facility staff and educators. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

The Associated Press contributed.