Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan expands COVID-19 vaccine access with discounted rides, more sites

A COVID-19 vaccine is held by a worker at the TCF Center in Detroit.

It's been almost a month since the city of Detroit began vaccinating people at the TCF Center parking garage. Now the city is ready to add more options for seniors to get vaccinated as the state continues the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

On January 13, the city administered its first vaccines at the TCF Center. Over the course of the past four weeks, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has announced the expansion of eligibility for the vaccine and, last week, said there would be an announcement about new sites, but stopped short of saying where they would be located.

That will change Tuesday afternoon when Duggan announces the new options for seniors and how residents can get free or low-cost transportation to TCF as the city continues to work towards ensuring all who are eligible to receive the vaccine have the means to do so.

Duggan spoke at 2 p.m. at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters to announce 'Senior Saturdays' which will be hosted for the next four weeks at two churches in Detroit on Saturdays. The city will still offer vaccines at the TCF Center but will also administer vaccines at Fellowship Chapel and Second Ebenezer, starting on Saturday, Feb. 13. 

The mayor said this is part of his goal to ensure everyone who wants to be vaccinated can do so.

"We have vaccinated more than 9,000 Detroiters ages 65 and older, but it’s very important that reach as many as we can as quickly as we can," said Mayor Duggan. "Thanks to our partnership with Rev. Anthony and Bishop Vann, we will be able to reach another 4,000 seniors over the next month, in addition to those we already will be vaccinating at TCF." 

Additionally, Duggan announced that the city will offer rides for just $2 for people to get to the TCF Center for the vaccination. When you call 313-230-0505 to make an appointment for your vaccine, just say that you need a ride and they'll schedule a round-trip ride for just $2. If you can't afford that, it will be free.

"No one should miss being vaccinated due to lack of transportation," said Mayor Duggan.  "Our goal is to have the most accessible vaccine program in the country, just as we had the most accessible testing program in the county." 

Finally, 2,500 COVID-19 doses are going to Meijer stores in Detroit as the mayor announced the partnership with the two locations. With 3,300 people on the waiting list in the city, Duggan said this will help get even more people access to the vaccine.

"This week we will be providing Meijer with 2,500 of our doses so they can begin contacting the people on their waiting list and administering them in the next few days," said Mayor Duggan. "If they still have a list of eligible people who need vaccinating beyond those initial doses, we will be able to provide them with additional ones." 

Last week, Duggan announced a major expansion for Detroiters eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to include any employee who works or lives in the city that works in grocery stores, restaurants, or any food/beverage industry. He also announced that security guards and janitors who live or work in the city are elligible as well.

Duggan said there was a "real chance" that the city is back to normal this summer if vaccination efforts continue.

"There is a real chance, this summer, that we can back to normal: out and interacting. It means we've got to get vaccinated. There is no place else where you can dial a phone, get on in 10 or 15 minutes, get your appointment, drive-in, and you're usually out in 35 to 45 minutes," Duggan said. "We're going to continue to expand this to more and more Detroiters. This is really our choice. We can take back the city and the life we had, by signing up."