Detroit expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, will give Johnson & Johnson shots

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan expanded vaccination to all Detroiters and anyone who works on-site in the city and is age 16 or older on Monday.

The city is also planning to ramp up vaccination capacity as the health department receives its first delivery of 3,300 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week.

The city's Northwest Activities Center will open as a vaccination site on Saturday only for the single-dose vaccine and it will also be distributed at two churches during Community Saturday events.

As the volume of Johnson & Johnson doses received by the health department increase, the center will add additional days to operate as a second major vaccination site, Duggan said.

"This city could be reopened this summer," Duggan said. "We're also going to be in the situation that by late May or June, the only people who are going into the hospital with COVID are going to be the people who had the chance to get the vaccine and didn't bother."

COVID-19 vaccination clinic traffic is guided along West Jefferson Avenue towards the TCF Center in Detroit on March 24, 2021. The TCF Center parking garage is being used as a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

As the city expands eligibility, the TCF Center can accept 4,400 cars a day, Duggan said, encouraging people to carpool with friends and family.

Denise Fair, the city's chief health officer, said similarly to the state, Detroit is seeing an upward trend of hospitalizations and cases that she described as "very concerning."

"Over the last two weeks, our cases have nearly doubled - 896 new cases," she said. "The majority of new cases continue to be those who are 20 to 29 years old, which is about 22%, and 30 to 39 years old around 18%. Please don't tune us out. Get vaccinated."

The city has a 10% infection rate, an increase from 3.1% 10 days ago, Duggan said.

"In November, our hospitalizations were prominently 60 (years old) and up. We haven't seen this before, but what's driving the hospitalization trends today are younger Detroiters and the fact they're hospitalized tells you that this infection, particularly the British variant of it, is hitting a lot harder than we were hit before," Duggan said.

The number of Michigan residents in hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now increasing at a faster rate than it did in the fall before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shuttered indoor dining and suspended in-person high school classes.

Through Monday, the state reported 2,144 adults hospitalized with the coronavirus, a 53% jump from a week earlier when there were 1,404 hospitalizations. The rate is increasing fast than it did in the fall when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suspending indoor dining and in-person high school classes.

Michigan has more than 1,200 cases of the United Kingdom variant B.1.1.7., the second-most in the U.S. behind Florida. Wayne County has 102 cases, 24 within Detroit.

During the first week of March, the city turned down 6,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine saying it would be better directed to rural communities.

The single-shot vaccine was 72% effective at preventing moderate illness in U.S. trials, a number that falls short of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which have been shown to be about 95% effective after two doses. However, in trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine completely prevented hospitalizations and deaths, including in South Africa against a more transmittable variant, and was 85% effective at protecting against severe cases of illness.

The mayor has said that research shows it is a "highly effective shot" and he's going to give residents choices. They can go to the activities center for the one-shot, the TCF Center downtown for two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or Ford Field's FEMA mass vaccination clinic where Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are being administered through mid-May.

To date, the city has administered 191,400 doses of 230,000 doses received. It has 43,000 appointments scheduled.

In Detroit, 17.6% of people 16 years and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. By comparison, the percentage of residents in outer Wayne County and Oakland County that have had at least one dose is 33%, Macomb County is at 27.4%, Washtenaw at 35% and Michigan at 31.2%.

The city has had nearly 33,000 cases of COVID-19 since March 2020, resulting in 1,868 deaths.

Duggan pleaded with Detroiters not to attend the Detroit Tigers season opener Thursday unless they're one of the 8,000 people with a ticket.

"If you think it's going to be one of those Opening Days where everybody fills up the bars and restaurants and nobody enforces that you're wrong," Duggan said. "We will shut down the bars and restaurants, we will fine them and potentially, they'll have their licenses suspended."

The bars and restaurants are going to have to adhere to 50% capacity and tailgating crowds must wear masks and social distance or they'll be asked to leave, he said.

To book a vaccine appointment

Only Pfizer has been approved for 16 and 17-year-olds. Residents should book appointments at Ford Field or the TCF Center.

Call the Detroit Health Department at (313) 230-0505 Monday through Friday for an appointment at TCF, Community Saturday events or the Northwest Activities Center.

Appointments are available at the following locations:

  • Greater Emmanuel Institutional COGIC at 19190 Schaefer
  • New Providence Baptist at 18211 Plymouth
  • Galilee Baptist Church at 5251 E. Outer Drive
  • Great Faith Ministries International at 10735 Grand River at Oakman
  • Grace Community Church at 21001 Moross Road (Second dose only)
  • Kemeny Recreation Center at 2260 S. Fort Street (Second dose only)
  • Fellowship Chapel at 7707 W. Outer Drive (Second dose only)
  • Second Ebenezer Church at 14601 Dequindre (Second dose only)

For Ford Field, any Michigan resident who is currently eligible, those 50 years and older or those 16 and older with disabilities or medical conditions, can fill out a registration form for an appointment online at

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 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m Saturday and Sunday.

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