(TNS) - To reach their most underserved communities, metro Detroit health departments are getting out extra doses of COVID-19 vaccine they are receiving from the federally run mass vaccination site inside Ford Field.
More than 14,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been given to health departments in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and the City of Detroit from the Ford Field vaccination site, with more on the way.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA) clinic can vaccinate 5,000 people a day inside Ford Field, the domed home of the Detroit Lions in downtown Detroit.
But for the first six weeks of the clinic, officials said 7,020 extra doses of vaccine are to be given each week to the health departments to use for mobile clinics and outreach programs to target the most vulnerable neighborhoods and communities in the region.
It was unclear how much each health department would receive in the last two weeks of the eight-week FEMA clinic, when the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are to be administered.
Organizers said late last week that each local health department has received two weeks' worth of the FEMA allocation. The breakdown was:
Two trays of the Pfizer vaccine, or 2,340 doses, each for the city of Detroit and Macomb County Four trays of the Pfizer vaccine, or 4,680 doses, each for Wayne and Oakland counties
From March 23 — the soft opening of the FEMA clinic — until Thursday, there have been 6,522 vaccines given via mobile clinics as well as 48,835 shots administered inside Ford Field, organizers said.
Officials are getting those extra vaccines out as quickly as possible as cases and hospitalizations rise in Michigan, which last week was the worst in the nation in COVID-19 cases per capita during the last seven days. Five variants have been detected in coronavirus cases in the state.
The federal government has opened 25 mass vaccination clinics in the U.S., Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response, said during a briefing Wednesday. A handful of new federally run sites across the country were announced last week.
The 25 sites have a combined capacity to administer more than 95,000 shots per day. Slavitt said through these mass vaccination sites more than 2 million shots have been administered in some of America's most at-risk and underserved communities.
The Oakland County Health Division is administering its FEMA shots for the first and second weeks of a new mass vaccination clinic inside the United Wholesale Mortgage Sports Complex in Pontiac. The vaccines will be for residents who live in communities with a high Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). Names are being pulled from the county's Save Your Spot list at OaklandCountyVaccine.com.
Health officials anticipate administering 1,000 to 3,000 shots each day they use the sports complex, with the site handling upward of 5,000 appointments if vaccine supply is adequate.
Stewart Collins, 31, of Pontiac, got his Pfizer shot inside the sports complex Friday. He said he wasn't going to get a vaccine until later, but decided to get one sooner after his 29-year-old fiancé was seriously hurt when he was hit by a truck in Pontiac in February.
Collins said his fiancé is recovering at home after five weeks of hospitalization, but he doesn't want to bring the virus home to him.
Some of the FEMA shots in Oakland County also are being administered at community-oriented clinics that are appointment-based and set up for a day, said Bill Mullan, spokesman for County Executive Dave Coulter.
The county is going to have a clinic this week in Royal Oak Township and held one in Hazel Park as well as at three churches, said Kathy Gray, Coulter's senior communications adviser.
The idea is to bring the vaccines closer to people who are high risk or cannot get to a clinic to receive a shot, as well as communities with lower vaccination rates to ensure equitable distribution of the shots.
"I think we are approaching a time when we are able to share, equitably share, vaccine through our community without barriers," Oakland County Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said Friday. "And I think that's, that's really a tipping point for us. There have been barriers in the past, but I think most are gone now."
In Macomb County, Executive Mark Hackel said the FEMA doses will be administered in clinics, including at churches in the Roseville/ Eastpointe area and in Mount Clemens as well as ACCESS in Sterling Heights. ACCESS is the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the U.S., according to its website.
He said some were made available to MyCare Health Care, a nonprofit and Federally Qualified Health Center, in Center Line.
"So we're being very target specific," Hackel said during a news conference at the opening of a drive-thru vaccination clinic in the former Sears automotive center in Sterling Heights on Wednesday.
Wayne County is holding pop-up clinics in communities with high SVI, said Bill Nowling, spokesman for Executive Warren Evans. Some of the FEMA shots were administered Thursday at a clinic in Highland Park.
The City of Detroit administered some of its initial FEMA shots through five mobile outreach clinics in ZIP codes with the highest SVI, said Margaret Carroll, communications manager for the city's health department.
More: Detroit expands TCF Center vaccine clinic, plans clinic for city workers' families
"We are in a life-and-death race against the virus, and the war against this virus is far from won," Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during a briefing Friday.
"Even as we're vaccinating record numbers of people, we have many more people to get vaccinated and we are seeing cases rise. Our whole-of-government response is accelerating to get Americans vaccinated as quickly, efficiently and equitably as possible."
Contact Christina Hall: email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Metro Detroit getting extra doses of COVID-19 vaccines for underserved communities
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