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Michigan hosting next virtual town hall about COVID-19 vaccine in communities of color Discussion to focus on vaccine effectiveness, community access

February 18, 2021
Contact: Angela Minicuci, APR, 248-765-0558

LANSING, Mich. - Recognizing that Michigan residents have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, the State of Michigan is hosting the next in a series of community town halls. The February event will address questions within communities of color.

This second virtual discussion is 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25. This builds upon the first virtual conversation with faith-based leaders, about the safety, efficacy and importance of the COVID-19 vaccines for safely reopening Michigan. In the following months, Michigan will also host additional town halls in partnership with public health and community leaders. Events are live-streamed at

"The COVID-19 vaccine is the way we are going to end this pandemic and return to a sense of normalcy in our everyday lives. Questions about the vaccine are understandable - particularly for racial and ethnic minorities who have historically had negative experiences with the healthcare system," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). "We especially want our Black and Brown communities who have been disproportionally impacted by this pandemic to be able to get the answers they need, so they can choose to receive these safe and effective vaccines."

Joining Dr. Khaldun for the February 25 discussion are:

  • Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist
  • Dr. Lynn Smitherman, MD
  • N. Charles Anderson, Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan
  • Reverend Wendell Anthony, Detroit NAACP
  • Eva A. Garza Dewaelsche, SER Metro-Detroit, Jobs for Progress, Inc.
  • Dr. Zafer I. Obeid, M.D., Arab American & Chaldean Council
  • Dr. Terry Samuels, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians


In order to reach community-wide immunity that can protect others who cannot get vaccinated, about 70% of Americans need to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The goal of the town hall series is to address the safety and efficacy of the vaccine by answering questions within vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately impacted, including communities of color. 

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, persons of color have faced devastating and disproportionate harm, both nationally and here in Michigan. The cumulative COVID-19 case rate in Black and African American populations has been over 40% higher than the rate in white populations. In addition, the cumulative COVID-19 death rate in Black and African American populations has been over three times the rate in white populations.

According to research, 66% of Michiganders are likely or very likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine and 34% would like to get it as soon as possible. However, there are disparities when it comes to who is likely to get the vaccine with 47% of white Michiganders very likely to get the vaccine versus 25% of black Michiganders.

Ahead of the discussion, attendees are encouraged to submit their questions for the town hall about the COVID-19 vaccine. Any questions that cannot be answered during the town halls due to time constraints, will be reviewed and added to the State of Michigan COVID-19 vaccine frequently asked questions.

Michigan's distribution of the vaccine continues in a phased approach, with an emphasis on ensuring the continuing functioning of the health care system and essential services in the community, and protecting people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Residents will need to continue preventative measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, and hand washing to reduce the spread of COVID in our communities even as the vaccine is being administered.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit


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