Detroit to triple COVID-19 vaccine supply at TCF Center, expand eligibility

Detroit’s drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site at the TCF Center garage expects to nearly triple the number of shots it can give starting Monday.

Mayor Mike Duggan announced the update Thursday afternoon at a news conference, saying he expects Detroit’s alloted vaccine count to go from 5,100 to 15,000 doses per week from the state and federal governments.

As such, the city will now allow Detroit residents ages 65 and older to get the vaccine, lowering the threshold from 68. It also opened appointments to any health care workers including those at veterinary centers, physical therapists and those in dentists’ offices and will expand hours.

“We have finally busted loose the supply chain on vaccines for the city of Detroit,” Duggan said.

The downtown site started administering vaccines since Jan. 13 to residents 75 or older and essential workers, but has continued to bring down the age requirement. Those eligible must make appointments through a Rock Connections-operated appointment hotline available at (313) 230-0505 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more on who is eligible for a vaccine in Detroit visit DetroitMI.gov.

The hotline faced difficulties at first with long waits for callers and some getting kicked off the call. Dan Gilbert-owned Rock Connections has boosted the number of workers taking calls from 42 to 80.

To accommodate more appointments, vaccination hours at TCF Center will be expanded by three hours a day to 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Asked why the site isn’t offering weekend appointments as well, Duggan said it was more advantageous with supplies as they are to add hours during the weekdays, as opposed to expand to a couple of hours on a Saturday.

“There’s a point at which there’s 25,000 (doses a week), we’ll probably open up Saturdays,” he said.

As more people go in for second doses in the coming weeks, the operation will also need to expand to a second location. Duggan estimated the city is about four weeks out from that.

“…We’re very much into those discussions right now as to how we would do that,” he said.

The city government has received 18,450 vaccine doses so far since they became available: 70 percent Moderna and the rest Pfizer. It has administered 81 percent of those vaccines, 38 percent of which have gone to elderly residents. The rest have gone to teachers, first responders, senior center workers, homeless shelters and others qualified to receive a vaccine.

Detroit was originally scheduling vaccination appointments for the public with Pfizer shots, but when those supplies from the state dwindled it got more Moderna.

The figures above don’t account for all vaccinations in Detroit, just what the city government is doing. Overall, 83,000 vaccines have been shipped into the city of Detroit, according to state of Michigan data. That includes vaccinations by health systems and pharmacies.

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