Ford Field offering Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine starting Tuesday

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
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The Ford Field mass vaccination site in downtown Detroit is slated to offer free one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines next week, officials announced Friday.

The doses are available during the site's final two weeks of operation, starting Tuesday and running through May 17, the Protect Michigan Commission said in a statement.

People can enter and exit through Ford Field's Gate G, off St. Antoine Street, for the vaccine clinic.

"The site will also provide free second doses of the Pfizer vaccine for anyone who has a need, no matter where the first dose was received," according to the release. "First dose needs to have occurred 21 days prior to receiving the second one, and people should bring their CDC vaccination card."

Ford Field is accepting walk-ins starting Tuesday but visitors are encouraged to register for an appointment by texting EndCOVID to 75049 or calling the Michigan Department of Health Human Services COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136.  On-site disability assistance or free transportation also can be arranged through the hotline.

Walk-ins should enter Ford Field through Gate G. Hours are 8:30 a.m. through 7 p.m.  Free parking is available nearby at 1902 St. Antoine.  

“Moving as quickly as possible to vaccinate all eligible Michiganders remains our priority and the path to ending this pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-related hospitalizations and death, and with effectiveness rates as high as 95%, vaccination is by far the most essential thing that residents can be doing to protect themselves and each other.”

Anyone age 18 or older is eligible to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is available to anyone at least 16, and a parent or guardian is required to be present for those under 18, officials said.

“With almost 50% of Michiganders initiating their vaccine, including 229,184 of which were administered at Ford Field, we’ve made significant progress since we started vaccinating — protecting our loved ones and communities,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, director of the Protect Michigan Commission. “This means we are 20% away or 1.65 million shots in arms from being able to be inside public spaces without masks. We won’t stop working till we vaccinate at least 70% of our state so we can move beyond this pandemic.”

Vials of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which will be available at Ford Field next week.

The announcement comes a week after the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended moving forward with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following an 11-day pause spurred by rare blood clotting cases.

U.S. health officials ended the pause after scientific advisers decided the vaccine's benefits outweigh the slight risk of blood clots, the Associated Press reported.

Last week, the state Department of Health and Human Services said it was recommending providers resume using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for residents at least 18 years old.

The state health department said teams at the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted extensive outreach to providers and clinicians to ensure they were made aware of the potential for adverse events and could properly manage and recognize the events.

Meanwhile, Michigan continues to lead the nation at 330 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people — a decrease from 519 cases per 1,000 people last week — outpacing Colorado at 206 cases per 100,000 people and Minnesota at 205 cases per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.

On Friday, the state added 3,440 new COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths. The latest figures bring the state's total number of cases to 840,954 and deaths to 17,611 since the virus was first detected in March 2020, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported. 

So far this week, the state has added 21,634 cases and 323 deaths. Last week, Michigan added 34,013 new cases and 449 deaths, ending eight consecutive weeks of rising infections. 

State health officials remain cautious as new virus variants spread. On Friday, MDHHS officials confirmed the first case of the India variant has been identified in Clinton County.

On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the "MI Vacc to Normal" plan to link virus restrictions to the percentage of residents having received their first vaccine dose.

The plan includes four steps to gradually removing restrictions. The final step, two weeks after 5.7 million residents, or 70% of the adult population, receive their first dose, the state lifts its gathering and face mask orders, she said.

Through Friday, the state reported about 50% of Michigan residents age 16 or older — around 4.04 million people — had received at least one vaccine dose.

Some 38%, or roughly 3.075 million residents, were considered fully vaccinated after having received all Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses, according to the state online dashboard.

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