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Detroit expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility residents 70+

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Detroit – Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday extended eligibility for city workers and residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the TCF center, the day after the city began administering the vaccines downtown.

Duggan opened vaccinations for residents 70 and over and any “good neighbor” driver 65 and over who escorted them to the TCF Center, as well as US Postal Service employees who live or work in Detroit, and city employees who their regular construction site work from there.

The city continues to offer vaccines to key workers, including K-12 teachers, child minders, police officers, and bus drivers.

“Anyone in a Detroit city or a Detroit agency. If you’re working from your regular construction site, you can call today and we’ll catch up,” said Duggan. The city immunized 400 people on Wednesday, 600 on Thursday, and said 800 appointments were scheduled on Friday, and Duggan added the process “went very smoothly”.

The city’s expansion came after Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the state would extend vaccinations to all citizens 65 and over, as well as frontline workers and teachers, starting Monday.

Duggan failed to follow this policy, finding that a third of Detroiters who died from the virus last year were over 75 years old. In Detroit, 40,000 people are over 75 years old and 100,000 others are over 65, Duggan said.

The city has received approximately 8,000 doses and is applying for more next week.

“We don’t know how many we’re getting until the governor tells us on Monday, and she’s at the whims of the federal government …” said Duggan. “A week from Monday we won’t be so worried if Joe Biden is here. We’ll see. We’re confident we can get through what we’ve planned for next week.”

The city plans to give 1,000 doses every day next week, Duggan said.

“We have a lot of garage space, we can definitely do 5,000 vaccinations a day. We will only book these when we know the supplies,” he said.

The city has increased its staff in the vaccination call center and extended the opening hours after it was inundated with more than 120,000 requests for vaccination appointments on Monday.

Precious Milledge (left) and Nurse Vinni Hancock are working at a drive-through vaccination center in the basement of the TCF Center in Detroit on Wednesday.

Duggan hopes to have 20,000 coronavirus vaccinations by early February if the state is able to maintain adequate supplies. If additional doses come through, they hope to increase the number of vaccinations to 30,000.

Some Michigan health systems say they are almost running out of COVID-19 vaccine and have been forced to cut schedule for vaccination appointments for the next week. Michigan received 60,450 doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine this week and is expecting 62,400 next week, according to Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Working with Henry Ford Health System, the city began rolling out the first round of Moderna vaccines in the last week of December. Topping the list were 1,200 medical first responders working for the Detroit Fire Department, 30 city health workers so they can vaccinate others, and 450 home health workers.

Earlier this week, Denise Fair, Detroit’s chief public health officer, said the health bureau is working with the nursing and pharmacy students at Wayne State University Medical School to vaccinate residents of 60 senior citizens’ homes and 29 homeless shelters.

As of Wednesday, Detroit has reported 27,174 confirmed cases of the virus and recorded 1,735 deaths.

To make appointments in the TCF Center garage, call (93) 230-0505 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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