Ford Field vaccination clinic flooded with registrations

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
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Detroit — Less than 24 hours after online registration opened Monday for vaccinations at Ford Field, more than 35,000 people have been slotted to get doses beginning next week, Meijer officials said.

The Grand Rapids-based retailer opened its online registration after 4 p.m. Monday and officials immediately saw a storm of people rushing to register.

Meijer officials say the registry has grown by 2,000 people each hour Tuesday.

Teachers assistant at the Berkley School District Sylvia Boyd of Detroit gets her COVID-19 vaccine from Meijer pharmacist Brittany Wilkinson.  Meijer hosted a vaccine clinic at Ford Field exclusively for educators and education staff in Detroit on March 1, 2021.

In January, Meijer has registered more than 1.7 million people for the vaccine across the Midwest, Meijer President & CEO Rick Keyes said in a press release.

“Our stores and pharmacies have played a pivotal role throughout the pandemic – helping customers at the store, building an online vaccine registry and administering more than 201,000 doses to Michiganders so far,” Keyes said in a statement. “I couldn’t be prouder of our quick response, but the work isn’t done.

"We’re excited to bring that technology – and our expert teams – to Ford Field to support the State of Michigan and FEMA in this critical endeavor.”

The football arena, home to the Detroit Lions, will open for vaccinations on March 24and operate seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. for eight weeks.

The site is supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ford Field will be allocated 42,000 doses per week. These doses will be in addition to Michigan’s regular allocation. Of the 42,000, officials expect 30,000 per week to be administered at Ford Field and the rest through mobile clinics. State officials said Tuesday they expect to administer nearly 250,000 doses over the eight weeks the site will be open.

Any Michigan resident who is currently eligible to receive the vaccine under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services vaccine prioritization guidance can fill out a registration form for an appointment online at clinic.meijer.com/register/CL2021.

Eligible residents can also text "EndCOVID" to 75049 and select the Ford Field location or call the health department hotline at (888) 535-6136 and press 1. For those unable to text or access the internet, the call center is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

After completing the forms, people who have registered will receive an invitation either by phone or text later this week when it’s their turn to schedule the appointment. Vaccine appointments will be scheduled a few days in advance, officials said.

Theresa Healy, with husband John Healy, of Chesterfield Township complete check-in with Meijer pharmacist Andrew Hanna. Meijer hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Ford Field exclusively for educators and education staff in Detroit, Michigan on March 1, 2021.

Meijer plans to focus on sending those invitations to people based on the state's social vulnerability index to vaccinate those most vulnerable in Detroit, which is the hardest-hit city in Michigan, as well as in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties.

Currently, residents 50 years and older with medical conditions, along with their caregivers and guardians of children with special needs are eligible. 

Eligible residents who have already signed up on Meijer's website can also sign up for Ford Field without losing their spot on the Meijer waiting list. 

Starting March 22, vaccine eligibility will extend to residents ages 16 and older with disabilities or medical conditions and by April 5, the state is expecting to expand eligibility to include all Michigan residents age 16 and up.

Ford Field most recently served as a vaccine site run by Meijer, vaccinating Michigan teachers and educational staff at a two-day clinic. The clinic used the stadium's concord for registration, to house 20 sheeted rooms where pharmacists administered the shots and as a waiting area for people to sit for 15 minutes after receiving the shot.

Henry Ford Health System will be providing medical oversight to the clinic.

Meijer will also manage the check-in process for those receiving vaccines at Ford Field, provide onsite pharmacists, deploy IT development teams and infrastructure and coordinate data submission to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry. Meijer's goal is to register, schedule and submit the data for 5,000 vaccinations each day.

“Meijer cares about the communities we serve, and our teams have come together with such sincerity to lend a hand during this challenging time,” Keyes said. “Through this continued partnership at the state and federal level, we’re able to keep doing our part to help finally put an end to this pandemic.”

Earlier this year, Meijer was named a federal retail pharmacy partner in Michigan and has since been named a partner in Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. To date, the retailer has conducted more than 2,060 clinics and administered 309,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Curtained off stations along the concourse of Ford Field for COVID-19 vaccinations for educators and education staff hosted by Meijer.
Meijer hosts a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Ford Field exclusively for educators and education staff in Detroit on March 1, 2021.

Michigan is ranked 29th in the nation for having administered more than 3 million doses out of more than 3.7 million doses shipped to Michigan.

As of Sunday, about 24.4% of Michigan's population has at least one dose and 13.7% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

Staff Writer Karen Bouffard contributed.

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