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Politics & Government

Lt. Gov. Gilchrist Points To Republicans For Dragging COVID-19 Vaccination Rate

Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is showing no signs of rapid improvement in the weeks since Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes.

Speaking on WDET’s Detroit Today, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said Thursday conservatives have hurt the vaccination effort by spreading misinformation. 

About 92,000 people have gotten at least one inoculation since the July 1st sweepstakes announcement. The state is still about 7% short of its goal of vaccinating 70-percent of the population. 

Gilchrist said the “politicization” of vaccines has made it more difficult to boost those numbers.

“We've seen you know, Republican partisans be very, very vociferously anti-vaccine in Michigan, just like they have in other parts of the country," Gilchrist said.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey told The Detroit News the Republican isn’t in favor of the vaccination lottery and called it “coercive.”

While stopping short of saying the lottery has been a failure, Gilchrist said the state is working on other messaging campaigns to get people, especially young Black men, to reconsider their stance on vaccinations.

“I think that every additional person who gets a vaccine dose is a step in the direction that we need to go into. We're going to continue that.” 

That could include tax credits to reward businesses for requiring their employees be vaccinated, but the idea would likely not fly with the G-O-P-led legislature.

“Michigan Republicans have shown themselves not willing or not interested in doing things to encourage people to get vaccinated at a high level," Gilchrist said.

A spokesperson for Michigan House Speaker Jason Wentworth told The Detroit News that Gilchrist’s comment was a “lazy stereotype.”

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