‘Good neighbors’ can get paid to drive Detroiters to COVID-19 vaccination sites

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan offered incentives Wednesdayfor "good neighbors" who drive a Detroit resident to a vaccination site.

To ramp up vaccinations, Duggan is expanding the "good neighbor" program and offering a pre-paid $50 MasterCard for anyone who registers while making the appointment for a Detroiter they intend to bring.

Mayor Mike Duggan holds a $50 gift card on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 as he announced incentives for "good neighbors" who drive a Detroit resident to a vaccination site.

Drivers can call, register as a "good neighbor," state who they intend to bring and set up a first-dose appointment together. The gift card will be given to the person registered and another $50 gift card will be issued at the second appointment.

The expansion starts Monday. To register as a "good neighbor" or to make an appointment, call (313) 230-0505.

“I don’t know any place in the country that’s doing this so we made up a set of rules,” Duggan said, detailing the seven good neighbor rules:

  1. Bring someone who is a Detroit resident.
  2. Register as a good neighbor ahead of time when making the appointment. 
  3. Attend as a good neighbor for the first shot to get paid for the second shot. 
  4. The program only applies to vaccinations made by appointment.
  5. One good neighbor per car.
  6. However, the good neighbor can bring up to three patients at one time and be paid for all three.
  7. No limit to how many patients can be brought in, but after $600 in payments, the city will have to issue a W-9 for tax withholding. 

Appointments can be made at the TCF Center drive-thru, Northwest Activities Center, Straight Gate Church and Community Saturdays at local churches.

"There are people — about 28% of the city — who say 'I'll never get it,' but most people fall somewhere in the middle," Duggan said of the vaccine. "They've got some hesitation, some fears. Maybe they don't like needles, maybe they read something, and those folks when they have support in their lives tend to show up and get vaccinated. What we're trying to do is really encourage the best of Detroit."

As of Tuesday, the city has 415 COVID-19 patients in hospital beds. Of those, 119 are on ventilators.

"That's a quarter of all the people admitted and we know the death rate is troublingly high for them," Duggan said.

In April, 89 Detroiters died from the virus. That included 37 people age 70-80, 33 people age 50-60, and 19 people ages 20-40.

"These are the people who have had the ability to get the vaccine for months. There is something about this British variant that is hitting lungs really hard," Duggan said. "We don't want to bury another 100 of our neighbors in May."

Michigan has five variants of the coronavirus, but as of Wednesday, it has 4,728 cases of the variant B.1.1.7. that originated in the United Kingdom.

Nearly 30% of residents in Detroit have received at least one dose of vaccine, but the city trails nearby communities and the state average. The percentage of people who have at least one dose of vaccine is 54% in outer-Wayne County, 59% in Washtenaw County, 57% in Oakland County, 47.4% in Macomb and 49% statewide, according to the city's vaccine dashboard.

The city on Tuesday surpassed more than 46,000 cases of the virus, resulting in 1,990 deaths from COVID-19.

The city has administered 296,709 doses of the 395,000 COVID-19 vaccines it has received. Of those, 11,600 doses are Johnson & Johnson. The city has 20,000 future appointments scheduled as of Tuesday.

With last week’s federal decision to reapprove the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for distribution, Detroit will be offering Johnson & Johnson at the Northwest Activities Center and Straight Gate Church starting Thursday.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_