Detroit: No appointments needed for new walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday said cases of COVID-19 in Detroit are beginning to "flatten" as he unveiled plans to add vaccination sites in the city that do not require an appointment. 

Duggan said the positivity rate in Detroit had been headed in the wrong direction. The city was recording about 500 new positive cases of the virus per day. But in the past 10 days, that's dropped to about 300 new daily cases.

Duggan attributed the improved numbers to people wearing masks, social distancing and reduced spread that he attributed to some people being fully vaccinated.

"This is really encouraging. Hospitalizations, it's starting to flatten," Duggan said during a briefing at Detroit's Public Safety Headquarters. "I'm absolutely convinced that vaccines are starting to take effect."

Beginning Tuesday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., residents can walk up to the TCF Center, Farwell Recreation Center, Northwest Activities Center or the Samaritan Center without an appointment and get vaccinated. 

Residents also will have the option of making an appointment or walking up for a vaccine Monday at Henry Ford or Western International high schools, on Wednesday at Brenda Scott Academy or Friday at the East English Village Preparatory Academy. 

On Saturday, the mayor said, walk-up vaccines will be provided from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at three churches where seniors have previously been offered COVID-19 vaccines: Fellowship Chapel, Second Ebenezer and Greater Grace. 

Previously, residents were required to call (313) 230-0505 to schedule vaccine appointments. The city now has 11 sites residents can visit without an appointment and eight others where they can schedule an appointment, he said.

"This is our role as a city; give you the best information we can and make the vaccine as available as possible and at as many locations as easily as possible," Duggan said. "I'm really hopeful in the coming weeks we will continue to see the new cases dropping as they have been recently."

Duggan's positive take came less than a week after he warned that the city, which has vaccinated residents at a slower pace than neighboring counties and the rest of the state, is particularly vulnerable to another wave of COVID-19 that he anticipates is headed for Detroit.

The mayor said last week that there are "intense efforts being made" to have "trusted voices" encourage Detroiters to get vaccinated and that the city is discussing whether it will use incentives as well.

People fill out their application to receive a vaccine shot at the walk-in clinic at the TFC Center in Detroit, Monday, April 5, 2020.

As of Thursday, about 27% of Detroiters 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, based on data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

In comparison, about 42% of Macomb County residents have received at least one dose. The numbers are higher elsewhere, including about 48% in out-Wayne County, 51% in Oakland County, 52% in Washtenaw County and 44% statewide.

Duggan said companies are offering to pair giveaways with vaccination days in Detroit and a research team is looking at how that's being done in other cities. He said the city's health office is divided on whether to offer incentives and giveaways to encourage residents to get COVID-19 vaccines. A decision is anticipated this week, he said. 

The city is hosting community forums, planning a door-knocking campaign and offering virtual tools to help residents locate the closest neighborhood vaccine sites. 

About 20.5% of COVID-19 tests in the city are returning positive. The state's positivity rate has dropped to about 15%, according to its database. 

There have been 42,394 confirmed cases of the virus as of Saturday and 1,933 deaths. On April 7, the city recorded a record of nearly 700 new cases in a single day, city data shows. As of Wednesday, 419 residents were hospitalized with the virus. 

Duggan said Monday that officials across the country are reporting a dip in vaccinations likely tied to concerns over Johnson & Johnson's vaccine that has been paused by federal officials. Any hesitancy related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Detroit, he said, would be "unfortunate."

"... because there's no city that relied less on Johnson & Johnson," he said.