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Older people the focus of new COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Wayne, Macomb counties

Christina Hall
 
| Detroit Free Press

The City of Detroit, as well as the Wayne and Macomb county health departments, are working to vaccinate more of their senior citizens, who are some of the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, by opening more clinics for them starting this week.

Detroit officials announced Tuesday that two new appointment-only Senior Saturday locations for Detroiters at Grace Community Church on the east side and the Kemeny Recreation Center on the west side will open starting this weekend.

The city also is planning to work with community partners to bring mobile vaccination clinics to pop-up sites, giving shots to up to 200 eligible Detroiters across the city on an ad-hoc basis, targeting ZIP codes with high positivity test rates for the virus and a high population of seniors age 65 and older, officials said in a news release.

The Wayne County Public Health Department also will be offering appointment-only clinics for seniors age 65 and older starting this week.

The county is partnering with the city of Livonia, whose fire department paramedics administered 500 doses of vaccine to homebound seniors last week as part of a pilot program.

The city also received 2,500 doses this week and is providing a vaccination program at the Livonia Senior Center for its residents. All of the appointments are filled, the city said in a release. A similar partnership could start in Dearborn in another week, said Bill Nowling, spokesman for County Executive Warren Evans.

More: Ford Field could be regional mass COVID-19 vaccination site

In Macomb County, officials said they plan to announce Wednesday a new appointment-only vaccination clinic for seniors age 60 and older in the Sterling Heights Senior Center.

The county Health Department is partnering with Sterling Heights and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART, to open the clinic, according to a news release.

SMART transportation will be available to the Sterling Heights site. Interested seniors should call the SMART Macomb Vaccine Hotline at 586-421-6579 or email macombvaccine@smartbus.org to register. The email needs to include the name, address, phone number and date of birth of the senior to be vaccinated.

More: Macomb Co., SMART team up to register seniors 65+ for COVID-19 vaccines at county clinic

Detroit clinics

With the two new Senior Saturday locations, the city of Detroit is looking to vaccinate a total of 2,000 Detroit seniors at the two new sites and the already-established Senior Saturday clinics at Fellowship Chapel and Second Ebenezer Church.

The city is vaccinating Detroiters age 60 years and older with chronic medical conditions, and city residents age 65 and older.

The new clinics at Grace Community Church, 21001 Moross Rd., and Kemeny Recreation Center, 2260 S. Fort St., will be held Feb. 27, March 6, March 13 and March 20. There are two more clinics scheduled at Fellowship Chapel and Second Ebenezer Church Feb. 27 and March 6.

More: Detroit pushing to vaccinate seniors, holding COVID-19 vaccine clinics at churches

“This is a key part of the city’s equitable outreach strategy to bring this lifesaving vaccine to our most vulnerable residents,” said Denise Fair, the city’s chief public health officer.

Eligible Detroiters can call 313-230-0505 to schedule their appointment.

Fair said the percentage of Detroiters being vaccinated still lags behind the surrounding areas and the state.

“As effective as our operation at TCF Center and our Health Department outreach has been, the reality is that there is a major gap we need to close to have Detroit residents vaccinated at the same level as other communities in our region and across the state,” she said.

More: Detroit residents age 60+ with chronic medical conditions can get COVID-19 vaccine

Nearly 9% of Detroiters have been vaccinated compared to about 15% of residents in the state, 13% in Macomb County, nearly 15% in Wayne County outside of Detroit and nearly 16% in Oakland County, the city said in its release.

The city said many of the outlying vaccinations are being done through hospital systems. Each county health department receives a limited number of vaccines each week, too.

The Detroit Health Department said nearly half of its 78,270 vaccine doses have been administered to senior citizens. The city also is going into senior apartments, homeless shelters and adult foster care facilities to give COVID-19 shots, in addition to the mass drive-thru vaccination clinic in the TCF Center garage.

The city continues to provide $2 rides to Detroiters who need transportation to their appointment. Rides need to be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance of the resident’s vaccine appointment. Wheelchair accessible vehicles can be provided.

Wayne County clinics

This week, the county health department began administering shots to senior citizens who live in Canton, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Inkster, Melvindale, Plymouth, Romulus and the city of Wayne.

“I’m pleased Wayne County is now in a position to begin vaccinating seniors,” County Executive Warren Evans said in a news release. “I know everyone is eager to safely get back to normal. Our team is working hard to ensure all of our residents can get their COVID shot as quickly as the vaccine is available. Every vaccinated resident gets us closer to ending the pandemic.”

He added: “The vaccine distribution process is limited by the available vaccine – of which no one is getting enough – but Wayne County is putting shots in arms as fast as we get them. By taking vaccines to where seniors are, Wayne County is making it even easier for people who want the vaccine to get a shot.”

The county will be administering 13,000 shots to seniors this week, most through the community clinics and the rest via the Livonia pilot program, Nowling said.

“Once we start scheduling in that community, we’ll keep scheduling until we’re done. It may take one visit, it may take two visits, it may take four,” he said. “We had to do it this way because we don’t have 250,000 doses (to vaccinate all seniors age 65 and older in the county). We’ve got to come up with a plan … to be as fair as possible.”

More: Answers to your questions about COVID-19 vaccines

That includes the criteria of spreading the doses across the county, by regions, and hitting the most vulnerable. The county is using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index, Nowling said.

“We are trying to create more ways for seniors to get the vaccine,” Nowling said.

There are no walk-ups, and appointments must be made in advance. Go to waynecounty.com/covid19 for more information.

County health departments in Michigan say they are working to get seniors vaccinated despite limited supply of the vaccine and high demand for shots.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said in a briefing Tuesday that state guidance is that “we use 75% of the doses we receive on our 65 and older population and 25% on our 1B essential worker population, and we do indeed do just exactly that.”

Vail said officials have held special clinics in senior housing complexes as well as using strike teams and other neighborhood-based clinics to get COVID-19 shots to seniors..

Contact Christina Hall: chall@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

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