Local leaders’ views on Michigan’s initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Spring 2021

August 2021

This report presents the opinions of Michigan’s local government leaders during the spring of 2021 regarding COVID-19 vaccines, including information on local government actions to support the rollout of vaccines in local communities, and adoption of employee-related policies or practices regarding COVID-19 vaccination, along with their confidence in the vaccines' safety and the fairness of how they were being distributed. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government officials in the Spring 2021 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), conducted between April 5 and June 7, 2021, and includes comparisons to public opinion data from the State of the State Survey (SOSS) conducted by Michigan State University.

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Key findings

  • As COVID-19 vaccines became available to the public in the spring of 2021, 19% of Michigan local governments (including 73% of counties and 46% of cities) reported taking actions on their own or in coordination with other units of government regarding the rollout in their communities. Common actions reported include community information dissemination, assisting local health departments, providing jurisdiction facilities, and coordinating with other community groups to help run vaccine clinics. 
  • Among Michigan local governments with employees, very few (9%) have adopted their own employee policies or practices regarding vaccinations for their jurisdiction’s employees, such as mandating vaccinations, helping schedule them, and providing extra time off for them. 
    • Counties (26%) and cities (23%) are significantly more likely than townships (4%) or villages (7%) to have adopted such policies. 
    • Large jurisdictions are also more likely than small ones to have adopted such policies. Overall, 27% of jurisdictions with more than 30,000 residents and 20% of jurisdictions with 10,001-30,000 residents have employee policies or practices regarding COVID-19 vaccines, compared with just 3% of the smallest jurisdictions. 
  • From April to early June 2021, 78% of Michigan local leaders statewide were somewhat (43%) or very (35%) confident that vaccines were being distributed fairly, while 11% were not at all confident, and 11% were unsure. However, this assessment may have changed once vaccines became more widely available late in spring 2021.
    • Officials from large jurisdictions, and from jurisdictions in southeast Michigan were more likely than others to say they were “not at all confident” that COVID-19 vaccines were being distributed in a fair way. Meanwhile, officials from the Upper Peninsula were the most likely to be “very confident.”
  • Most Michigan local officials were also confident in the safety and efficacy of available COVID-19 vaccines, with 75% somewhat (31%) or very (44%) confident, and only 16% not at all confident in vaccine safety and efficacy. 
    • Local leaders’ views on vaccine safety were highly correlated with partisanship, with 74% of Democrats saying “very confident,” compared with 57% of Independents and 32% of Republicans. High confidence was also higher among men (49%) than women (40%) and among older local leaders (61% among those 70 and older).

Rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for the wider community


Among Michigan local governments, counties and cities are the most directly involved in community vaccine rollout Spring 2021 MPPS

Employee vaccine policies or practices


As of June 2021, relatively few Michigan local governments have enacted COVID-19 vaccine policies or practices for employees Spring 2021 MPPS

Confidence in safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines


As of April-June 2021, most Michigan local officials were confident in the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines Spring 2021 MPPS