Detroit encourages 75-year-olds to get coronavirus vaccine

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The city began vaccinating residents 75 or older Wednesday at the TCF Center in downtown Detroit. (Shutterstock photo)

Update: On Thursday, Duggan announced the city will expand the vaccine program to Detroit residents age 70 and up, U.S. postal workers, day care workers, and city employees who do not work from home.

Detroiters 75 and older will have priority access to coronavirus vaccines from the city.

Family members and friends age 65 and older who are willing to drive a 75-year-old to a vaccination appointment will also be allowed to register for a vaccine.

The city expects to distribute 20,000 vaccine doses through Feb. 5 with the hope of receiving more, Mayor Mike Duggan said in a news conference on Tuesday. The vaccine will be administered at the TCF Center downtown via a drive-thru service. Older Detroiters, teachers, and police officers will be vaccinated first and the city gradually will allow others to receive  vaccines as doses become available. Duggan said that could be about four weeks from now and Detroit Public Schools Community District is expected to administer vaccines to its employees separately.

Duggan said that older Detroiters are being given priority since one-third of the city’s coronavirus deaths in 2019 were over 75. Duggan said about 40,000 Detroit residents fall within this age group.


Only Detroit residents are eligible to receive the vaccine through the city beginning Wednesday. The city has already booked 2,000 appointments through the end of the week and will visit several assisted living and homeless shelters to meet residents who do not have transportation.

Appointments can be made by calling 313-230-0505 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Those who make an appointment should take a pen to fill out a consent form and expect to stay in their vehicle for 15 minutes after the injection so that nurses can determine that individuals are not having an adverse reaction to the drug. So far, very few people have had adverse effects from the vaccine.

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The city equated a large volume of calls to the recently created coronavirus vaccine call center as a sign that Detroiters are interested in getting vaccinated. During Tuesday’s news conference Duggan said about 120,000 people had called by Monday evening but said the bulk of those callers were from people who did not qualify. 

“A major cause of call volumes is a large number of calls from individuals who are not eligible. We do not have the capacity to answer questions from people under 75 or non-Detroiters about vaccinations in general. If you are not eligible to book the vaccine, please do not tie up the line,” Hakim Berry, Detroit’s chief operating officer, said Monday in a news release.

“A major cause of call volumes is a large number of calls from individuals who are not eligible. We do not have the capacity to answer questions from people under 75 or non-Detroiters about vaccinations in general. If you are not eligible to book the vaccine, please do not tie up the line,”  – Hakim Berry, Detroit COO

Berry said 80 of the city’s medical staff are expected to run the operation at TCF. This includes medical assistants, registered nurses, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. An emergency room physician, ambulance, and paramedic personnel will also be available.

The city has also backtracked from its earlier statement that it is “far too early to discuss a vaccine,” which city communications employees told BridgeDetroit in late November. The city has since shared numerous photos, social media posts, and press materials of city officials getting vaccinated and sharing information with Detroiters on how to do the same.

Denise Fair, chief public health officer for the City of Detroit, said the city was given 2,000 Moderna coronavirus vaccines before Christmas.

The city has partnered with Rock Connections, a Dan Gilbert company, to manage the call center. Initially,  42 Rock Connections employees were assigned to coronavirus calls, but the city said due to high demand that number has increased to 76 employees. 

 

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