MDHHS director hopeful as vaccination rates go up, we could see return to some normalcy by summer

Posted at 6:48 AM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 10:33:42-04

Michigan is continuing its fight against COVID-19 and working to get a majority of Michiganders vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The state also recently expanded its mask mandate to include kids ages 2-4, which came with some backlash from parents.

On Tuesday, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel joined 7 Action News to answer some questions. You can find them below.

Will Michigan follow President Biden's possible new CDC outdoor mask guidelines?

We will certainly take a look at the recommendations and guidelines. We have generally aligned with the guidelines they put out. I'd anticipate if they make a change, we'd take a look at our recommendations to make sure they align.

What about the extended mask mandate for kids?

We extended the mask mandate to children ages 2-4 as recommended by the CDC and academy for pediatrics. We recognize it's difficult to get them to do anything sometimes, so mask-wearing may not be something that people can do regularly with children that age. It's about making the best effort to do so in crowds or in gatherings to minimize risk for children at that age.

Where does Michigan stand with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine resuming after a reported blood clot in a California man?

We don't know enough about that case yet to make any determination on how that young man actually got the clot, whether it was a pre-existing condition. If people have concerns about getting the J&J vaccines, they should talk to their physician. But we know the risk is extremely low with Johnson & Johnson.

Do you think it was a mistake to suspend the shot given the rise in vaccine hesitancy?

I don't know if that contributed to it. I think it was a good idea for the FDA and CDC to take a pause and look at the data that was coming in to ensure we are administering safe vaccines. I'm glad to see we had such a great demand for vaccines in Michigan and we're continuing to implement different strategies to reach people where they are.

What do you say to someone who may just not want the J&J vaccine and wants another one?

We are in a good position now where people have a choice because we have enough supply. There are plenty of locations across the state where people can get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Many people are canceling second COVID-19 vaccine appointments and supply is outpacing demand. What impact could this have on herd immunity?

I think we will be able to get to herd immunity. I think we knew we would see a point where people would go anywhere to get a vaccine, and then there were going to be people who wanted to get it where it was more convenient.

Where do you see restrictions heading as we approach the summer months with wedding and graduation season?

I'm hopeful that those vaccination rates continue to go up and our case rates continue to go down and we will be in a position to get back to a somewhat normal lifestyle where we were pre-pandemic.

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