DETROIT – The city of Detroit opened two new senior vaccination sites on Saturday to expand its efforts to get COVID vaccination clinics into communities.
As part of the city’s Senior Saturday initiative, coronavirus vaccinations are now being administered to seniors at two additional locations: the Grace Community Church on the city’s east side, and the Kemeny Recreation Center on the city’s west side.
Like most other regions, Detroit has had to grapple with high demand for coronavirus vaccines. Now with shots becoming more available and with hopefully more on the way, the city is expanding its vaccination efforts to reach is most at-risk residents.
This weekend and every coming weekend for the next month, seniors in Detroit will be able to receive a vaccine from four locations instead of just two. The original Senior Saturday vaccination clinic sites are at the Second Ebenezer Church and the Fellowship Chapel.
“It’s so important to bring the vaccine right to where they are in a comfortable environment, which is the church,” said Detroit Chief Health Officer Denise Fair.
By adding two more locations, the city of Detroit believes it can double the number of vaccinated seniors and reach 2,000 vaccinations each weekend.
On Saturday, Detroit resident Brenda Johnson, 70, received her vaccine. Although she was skeptical about the vaccine’s side effects, her daughters who live in Phoenix bought her a plane ticket hoping for a family reuinion in the sun by Mother’s Day.
“They said, ‘Mom, we’re going to buy your ticket, so do what you got to do so you can come visit for Mother’s Day,’” Johnson said. “I knew in my heart, in order for me to get on that plane and feel secure, I need to get my shot.”
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The weekly vaccine drive has taken off in Detroit, working to help reach communities of color and at-risk seniors. With the introduction of the city’s Good Neighbor program, anyone older than 55 from anywhere in the state is eligible to get vaccinated in Detroit as long as they accompany a senior.
“We know that Black and Brown communities are two-to-three times more likely to get COVID and to also die from it,” Fair said. “If you look at those who we lost over the pandemic, 80 percent of those we lost were seniors.”
Later Saturday evening, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a third coronavirus vaccine -- produced by Johnson & Johnson -- to help prevent virus spread and infections. Local health officials weren’t sure just yet how the authorization would impact weekend vaccine drives -- but more vaccines are certainly better than none.