News Story

Michigan's ‘Are Vaccines Working?’ Report Covers Period When Vast Majority Of Residents Were Not Vaccinated

Editor's note: The headline was changed to better reflect the report released by the state of Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release and presentation that asked, “Are vaccinations working?” and provided data to assess the question.

The product displays the number of not-fully vaccinated individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, been hospitalized, or died from the disease beginning Jan. 15, 2021, and running through July 28. It indicates that 94.5% of those hospitalized with COVID-19, and 95% of those who have died with it over this period, were not fully vaccinated. 

The claim calls for closer inspection.

The health department’s report includes COVID cases going back to Jan. 15, 2021, but the state’s first vaccination was not administered until just a month earlier, Dec. 14, 2020. And there was no widespread vaccine distribution until months later. By Jan. 15, less than 5% of the state’s population had been fully vaccinated.

Even if, at that date, the rate of infections had been the same among both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, 95% of the positive tests would still have come from unvaccinated individuals.

The timeline in the state report covers 27 weeks. By the end of its first 15 weeks, only 34% of residents age 12 and older had been fully vaccinated.

On Jan. 15, when the vast majority of state residents — 90% — were still unvaccinated, the official tally for that day counted 79 COVID deaths.

The second wave of COVID-19 peaked in Michigan during the first half of April 2021. On April 13, the state recorded 10,277 cases, the most of any day to date, according to At that time just 26% of Michigan’s 12-and-older population were fully vaccinated.

The state of Michigan did not open vaccine availability to all adults until April 5. By the week ending June 14, just 50.3% of the state’s residents age 12 and older had been fully vaccinated.

By publicizing death and hospitalization rate data from before vaccines had been widely distributed, Michigan officials are undermining their own claims of how effective the vaccine has been. That’s the view of Michael Van Beek, director of research for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

“These are not meaningful statistics because they include a time period where the vast majority of residents were not vaccinated,” Van Beek said.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.