By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

The state health department is announcing a new program to “enhance the state’s equity strategy to reach more Michiganders with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that workers in food processing and agricultural settings will be able to be vaccinated beginning March 1st. Officials say that that will help keep Michigan’s food supply chain moving. Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said that workers in higher-risk agricultural settings have been adversely impacted by the pandemic.

Mortuary service workers are also being bumped up to Phase 1A.

Khaldun added that they need to remove barriers to vaccine access for the most vulnerable in Michigan, naming those with disabilities, with lower income, and racial and ethnic minorities.

Also announced was that 41 federally qualified health centers in Michigan will receive vaccine allocations to help vaccinate the senior population. None of them were in Livingston County. According to the state, the health centers, "are located in medically underserved areas to provide high-quality, affordable and comprehensive medical services to everyone – regardless of who they are, where they come from or their ability to pay."

Earlier this month the state moved to begin using the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, or SVI, to determine how much of a share of the state’s allotted vaccines are sent to each county. Livingston County, by the SVI algorithm, was determined to be the least socially vulnerable county in the state, reducing its share of vaccine distribution.

Consequently, the Livingston County Board of Commissioner’s General Government Committee is holding a special virtual meeting on Thursday at 5:30, to vote on a resolution asking the governor to “allocate vaccine doses such that each county would receive a quantity that is proportional to the number of senior citizens residing in each county.”

The state's current vaccine prioritization can be found by Clicking Here.

Photo: Charlie Riedel | AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File