Dozens line up for third doses of COVID-19 vaccine at Oakland County vaccine clinic

Hayley Harding
The Detroit News

Marcia Detter hasn't been far from home much since returning from a winter in Florida in March 2020.

She goes out and about in her backyard garden in Commerce Township, and sometimes she'll sit on the deck with friends when the weather is nice and they can all sit far apart. But the 75-year-old has an uncommon disease that can cause inflammation in her blood vessels, and the best treatment is a chemotherapy drug that suppresses her immune system. She can't risk exposure to COVID-19, so her husband, Don, has taken on "99% of all the outside chores."

Marcia Detter of Commerce Township gets her third dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Registered Nurse Karrie Cooper during the Oakland County Health Department vaccination event held at the Southfield Pavilion on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

"That's why I was so anxious to get a third shot," Detter said as she waited in the observation area of a Southfield vaccine clinic on Tuesday, just a few minutes after receiving her third dose. Her physicians recommended she get another round of the vaccine as soon as she was able.

"I'm hopeful that if I'm exposed to the delta variant, that (a third dose) would help keep me from being severely ill. The number of antibodies I'm able to create is very limited, so I'm hoping this will give me just a tiny bit more."

Detter is one of more than a dozen people who lined up as doors opened at the Southfield Pavilion on Tuesday. They're some of the first people to get a third vaccination after the FDA approved another round for people who are immunocompromised earlier this month. About four dozen appointments were scheduled for the clinic, but walk-ins were also welcome. 

The goal is to help cut down on risk posed by the delta variant, which has swept through Michigan and the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the variant both spreads faster than early forms of COVID-19 and can cause more infection, and early studies from Scotland and Canada indicate it may cause more severe illness as well.

Eduardo Petty (left) of Southfield gets his third vaccine injection from Elizabeth Miller of the Oakland County Health Department during a  vaccination event held at the Southfield Pavilion on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

Vaccines are the best way to reduce risk, experts say, and a third dose is believed to limit risk even more. The Associated Press and others reported health authorities will recommend another dose for all Americans eight months after they got their final shot, an amount of time that will allow the immune system to better process both previous doses and the next one.

Detter said she was excited to have another tool to stay safe from the virus. She said she's heard stories of fully vaccinated people contracting the virus asymptomatically and passing it on to others, which is one of her biggest fears.

"What if Don gets it somehow and gives it to me?" she said. "If we can do anything to eliminate that risk and my doctors say it's a good idea, then I'm going to do it."

Not everyone getting another shot on Tuesday was immunocompromised. 

Alice Smith-Bynum, 74, said she wanted to protect those around her.

She runs a medical transport service called Senior Care Services and Transport, and her clientele is almost exclusively older people and others whose disabilities put them at high risk, she said. Smith-Bynum said she got her first two doses "as soon as possible," and when the opportunity arose to get another, she jumped at it.

"This is the best way, I feel, to stem the pandemic and to keep everyone safe," she said after getting her booster dose.

Smith-Bynum compared to it wearing a seatbelt, saying it was something small to keep people safe. She said she had no side effects when she got her first two doses.

Alice Smith-Bynum of Southfield waits to receive her third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during the Oakland County Health Department vaccination event at the Southfield Pavilion on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

"If I just need a third shot to end this all a little sooner, that's fine by me," she said.

Clinics like the one held in Southfield Tuesday are designed to help immunocompromised people get their third shots but are open to everyone, regardless of whether they're on their first dose or their third, Oakland County spokesperson Bill Mullan said. The county is holding several more in the next few weeks.

That includes two drive-thru clinics. The first is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday in Rochester at the fire station on 277 E. 2nd St. The second is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Novi fire station at 49375 W. 10 Mile Road.

Mullen directed anyone who lives, works or studies in Oakland County to visit oaklandcountyvaccine.com to find out more about third doses and future clinics. Those in Macomb County can visit macombgov.org/vaccinecentral, while those living in Wayne County can go to waynecounty.com/covid19/vaccination.aspx.

Those living anywhere in Michigan can visit michigan.gov/covidvaccine to find a vaccine near them. There is also a COVID-19 hotline available at 888-535-6136 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

hharding@detroitnews.com

@Hayley__Harding