Duggan: 'We're going to have to vaccinate 5,000 a day just in Detroit' for COVID-19

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine and making sure every resident gets it will be more difficult than virus testing.

"We're looking now at the reality that when we were testing 1,200 people a day, that was a major undertaking," Duggan told Margaret Brennon on Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"To get the vaccinations out we're going to have to vaccinate 5,000 a day just in Detroit," Duggan said. "We haven't begun as a country to address what it's going to take to actually inject people with the vaccine."

Pending regulatory approval, Michigan is slated to receive several hundred thousand doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that will ship before the end of the year, health officials said last week. 

Shipments could be received by Henry Ford Hospital as early as Dec. 12, hospital officials said. Five of its hospitals are preparing to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December as two promising vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna await approval. 

"You think about the city of Detroit with 700,000 people. If you were able to vaccinate 5,000 a day, you're still talking three or four months," Duggan said. 

Duggan said the TCF Center and large parking structures like those at Ford Field and Comerica Park will be used to do large-scale vaccinations during the winter months. 

Hospital workers, emergency medical technicians, police officers and firefighters will be vaccinated first, Duggan said. People over the age of 65 will be next, he said.

"We know the pharmacies are going to be helpful. The doctors and hospitals will be helpful. But the magnitude of what we're talking about this country has never experienced. And basically right now we're day and night ... getting ready for wholesale vaccinations," Duggan said. 

While the city is gearing up for large-scale vaccinations, Duggan said it is still in better shape than some communities. 

According to Detroit's COVID-19 dashboard, the city has an 8.53% positivity rate as of Nov. 25, while the state of Michigan has an 11.7% positivity rate as of Nov. 27.

"In Detroit, assembly lines are in our DNA. We set up the biggest and most efficient drive-thru testing site in the Midwest at the fairgrounds. ... If you drove around the city, Detroiters were wearing masks. It was not necessarily true in the surrounding communities," Duggan said.