By Jessica Mathews /

Michigan is entering the next phase for COVID-19 vaccinations.

To help reach the state’s goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders over age 16 and bring a quicker end to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials announced the state is moving to a new phase of vaccination on Monday.

At a Wednesday press conference, the Governor said work is continuing to distribute the two vaccines that she stressed are both safe and effective. In the past three weeks, it was stated more than 152,000 vaccines have been administered. Whitmer said they’re working with local public health departments and providers to begin distribution among the most vulnerable populations like health care workers and front line workers. On Monday, she said all counties can begin vaccinating people age 65 and up. That will include some essential workers such as school and child-care staff, first responders, and staff in jails and prisons. Whitmer commented the quicker the vaccine can be distributed, the quicker the strain on the healthcare system can be reduced to put an end to the pandemic. However, she cautioned that the state is lacking support from the federal government and not enough vaccines are being received.

Whitmer noted there have been more than 500,000 confirmed cases in Michigan – noting the virus has now mutated and new variants have been found in the UK and other parts of the country - again stressing the importance for people to make a plan to get vaccinated.

Seniors can book appointments by contacting county health departments and other local vaccine clinics. Essential workers will be notified by their employers about clinic dates and locations.