Henry Ford partners with schools on vaccine clinics for ages 12 and up

Amelia Benavides-Colón
The Detroit News

St. Clair Shores — Sene Murril has been waiting for the day she could have her 15-year-old asthmatic daughter vaccinated against COVID-19.

Murril said after learning that her physician's office didn't have any vaccines available, she felt stuck. But when a clinic opened up at Lakeview High School in St. Clair Shores, she immediately made an appointment for her daughter, Shiyonna. 

“I took her to her physician first to ask 'cause she has asthma and she has allergies and he said, 'Oh she’ll be fine,'" Murril of Eastpointe told The Detroit News Friday after her daughter received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

Kennedy McClellon,15, of St. Clair Shores receives her vaccine shot from Henry Ford Health System nurse Maribel Hernandez at Lakeview High School.

Murril, who also is vaccinated, said she's ready for her daughter to get back to living the normal life of a teenager. 

"Sitting at home is not good for our kids at all," she said. 

Henry Ford Health System has partnered with school districts in Metro Detroit to host a series of mobile and school-based vaccine clinics to ensure children ages 12 and up have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The effort runs through June 11 and is targeting sites in the region, including parts of Macomb County, hit harder by COVID-19 infections but that have lower vaccination rates. Besides St. Clair Shores, the other Macomb locations will be Warren and Mount Clemens.

Other sites include Detroit, Dearborn, Bloomfield Hills and Oak Park.

The push is critical following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval last week of the Pfizer vaccine for use in children as young as 12, said Henry Ford Health spokeswoman Kim North Shine. 

So far, North Shine said, the vaccine clinics at the school sites are promising, with 200 to 300 appointments being scheduled per day.

"We expect that to continue given the early, high interest," she said. "Macomb is an area of concern. We've had success connecting to other hesitant communities by providing reliable information and doctors to answer questions and then going to places of worship and workplaces."

The school-based sites are staffed with nurses and medical assistants who have undergone training to understand the vaccine, its side effects and effectiveness. 

Macomb County has had 90,930 cases of COVID-19 and 2,215 deaths attributed to the virus to date, according to the county's COVID tracking dashboard. A total of 683,466 vaccines have been administered with 37.4% of the total population fully vaccinated. 

Advisers to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said the vaccines will enable children to safely attend summer camps and help ensure a more normal return to classrooms in the fall.

John Zervos, Henry Ford Health System's director of the Global Health Initiative, has said the Detroit-based system is aiming to vaccinate 5,000 children with the 10,000 doses they have designated for the project. 

Jason Whiteside II,13, of Roseville, with his mother Charlotte Piotzke watching, receives his vaccine shot from Henry Ford Health System nurse Maribel Hernandez at Lakeview High School.

North Shine said the health system through 125 mobile sites has vaccinated more than 25,000 people in southeast Michigan. Henry Ford has vaccinated more than 300,000 others at its onsite facilities. And with Ford Field, a mass vaccination site where Henry Ford Health System acted as medical director, the number is more than 600,000, North Shine said. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday accelerated plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions, detailing her plan to end statewide mandates on July 1 and, for the most part, bring life "back to normal."

Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist also stressed the importance of the state's continued push to vaccinate Michigan residents 12 years and older. Almost 57% of adults 16 years and older had received at least one dose of vaccine through Thursday, including those who got vaccinated out of state, according to the state health department's website.  

On Friday, Whitmer noted that 8 million COVID-19 doses have been administered. 

The sites offer walk-up vaccines or individuals can call ahead to schedule an appointment.

To find a location or set up an appointment, visit www.henryford.com/getyourshot