All Michiganders 16+ are eligible for COVID shots starting April 5

Feds name Detroit’s Ford Field as vaccine site   

By: - March 12, 2021 3:58 pm

Ford Field in Detroit | Ken Coleman

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday said that every Michigander 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID vaccine starting April 5. Michiganders 16 and older with disabilities or medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe COVID will be eligible earlier on March 22.

DHHS announced last week that Michiganders 50 and older with medical conditions or disabilities and caregiver family members and guardians who care for children with special health care needs could get vaccinated as of Monday. It also was announced that on March 22, vaccine eligibility was expanded to include all Michiganders 50 and older.

Those eligible to receive a vaccine should:

  • Check the website of the local health department or hospital to find out their process or for registration forms
  • Check additional vaccination sites, such as local pharmacies like Meijer, Rite Aid or Cardinal Health (U.P. residents)
  • Residents who don’t have access to the internet or who need assistance navigating the vaccine scheduling process can call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or can call 2-1-1.

Whitmer also said that an eight-week mass regional vaccination site with the capacity to administer 6,000 doses each day will open on March 24 at Ford Field in downtown Detroit. The Biden administration in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) selected Southeast Michigan for the site. The White House estimates it has the capacity for 5,000 shots per day on-site and an additional 1,000 per day through a mobile option.

“Over one million Michiganders of all races have already been safely vaccinated, and this site will help us to reach our goal of equitably vaccinating 70% of Michiganders who are 16 years or older more quickly,” said Whitmer. “Ramping up vaccine distribution will also help our economy recover faster and help save our small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic.”

The site will operate from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., seven days a week, for eight weeks under the federal government’s vaccination pilot program. 

The stadium was selected according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) priority tool to help those hardest hit and most vulnerable using the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). The site is designed to serve residents in the broader Southeast Michigan region. It is another step toward states offering the coronavirus vaccine to all adults by May 1, which President Biden has called for.  

The White House notes that Ford Field was selected as it is Americans with Disabilities Act/Architectural Barriers Act accessible, has the ability to accommodate 10,000 individuals at the same time, has convenient access to parking and public transportation and has existing security and crowd control infrastructure.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, helped secure funding to support national vaccination efforts, including the operation of the vaccination site at Ford Field.

“Vaccine distribution has rapidly increased under the Biden Administration and it’s critical we keep our foot on the gas to ensure Michiganders can get vaccines as soon as possible,” said Peters. “I am thrilled that the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act will deliver resources — that I secured — directly to the federal vaccination program at Ford Field.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan welcomed the news. 

“Having this new mass vaccination site operated by FEMA will be a significant step forward for our city and our region toward that goal,” Duggan said. “We will be working closely with FEMA and state officials to make sure vaccines are distributed equitably.”

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.