Detroit closed largest vaccine clinic as demand for shots declines

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city's largest vaccine clinic has closed due to a decline in demand, Detroit's Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair Razo said.

During an update to the City Council on Wednesday on the health department's budget, Fair Razo said Huntington Place, formerly the TCF Center, closed its vaccine clinic Feb. 18.

Fair Razo said vaccinations at the downtown clinic dropped from 1,400 to 100 each day earlier this year. 

The center was one of the first large-scale drive-through operations in the nation for the general public to receive vaccines or tests for COVID-19. From January 2021 to Feb. 18, the center administered 268,500 vaccines and 10,115 tests, according to the health department.

Clinics remain open at the Northwest Activities Center, located at 18100 Meyers; Samaritan Center, at 5555 Conner; or Community Saturdays offered at six churches. See a full list of locations here or text your address to (313) 217-3732 to find the nearest location. In addition, many pharmacies offer testing and vaccines.

Detroit has been one of the hardest-hit cities by the virus. As of Friday, the city totaled 123,568 confirmed cases, resulting in 3,234 deaths.

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The city vaccine center at Huntington Place, formerly TCF Center, has closed.

Despite that, Detroit has been stuck at a 49% vaccination rate, compared to 65% of Michigan that has received one dose. 

The city is entering the endemic stage, meaning that the disease has a constant or usual presence within the community, Fair Razo said.

"For the last two years, we have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and Detroit has been leading the nation in providing equitable access for both vaccinations and testing as well as outreach and education," Fair Razo said. "We are familiar with the current disease... and what that means is we are going to be looking at our daily case rates, as well as hospitalizations to determine next steps as we enter into this next stage."

In April 2021, Mayor Mike Duggan launched the Good Neighbor program offering a $50 incentive to anyone who drove a Detroit resident to Huntington Place to get vaccinated.

City Council President Pro Tempore James Tate questioned why in District 1, his district, deaths and infections were higher than other parts of the city. 

"It's not just the testing itself, because we looked at the numbers and it was always higher, from the beginning and still to this day," Tate asked Fair Razo. "What has the department done not just in terms of pushing the vaccine... but analyzing why such a disproportionate in that part of the city. When we look at testing, we're about 50% just like everyone else in the city."

Fair Razo responded saying they've been proactive and have sent clinical teams to District 1 to host vaccination clinics and they are looking at the data.

"We definitely have more work to do. I believe we need to geo-target and do target social media efforts within District 1 and see if we can make a more positive impact," she said.

They are prepared to ramp up vaccines and testing sites should there be another surge, she said. 

Detroit Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair Razo addresses the Detroit City Council on Monday.

Fair Razo made the comments as she addressed the Detroit City Council's budget hearing committee. The Detroit Health Department's budget is $43.8 million and there are 167 city employees.

"We're looking for more (Community Block Organizations) to partner with us and are hosting town halls or even in-person educational events to make sure Detroiters are aware that COVID exists. COVID is real, and we need to make sure they're protected," she said.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_