Detroit offers 3rd vaccine dose, mayor warns of virus spread

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Crain’s Detroit Business
Aug. 16, 2021
Corey Williams 

Mayor Mike Duggan warned Detroit residents Monday to get vaccinated before the city and Michigan begin to resemble some southern and Midwest states inundated with COVID-19 infections, primarily due to the delta variant.

On Tuesday, the city will begin giving third shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to residents with compromised immune systems, Duggan told reporters.

The Food and Drug Administration said last week that people with weakened immune systems can get an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to better protect them as the delta variant continues to surge.

Drive-up vaccinations will resume at TCF Center in downtown Detroit for people who also have had organ transplants, have diseases affecting their immune system or are taking medication that affect the immune system.

Duggan said Detroit has 30,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on hand. The need for third doses is being driven by the number of people who have chosen not to get vaccinated, Duggan said.

“There is an enormous river of COVID transmission among the unvaccinated,” Duggan said. “Unfortunately, it allows for things like the delta variant. And who knows if we get another variant? Because if this keeps spreading it’s a matter of time before this virus mutates and we’re talking about a different kind of variant.”

About 225,000, or 42 percent, of Detroit residents have been vaccinated for COVID-19. More than 64 percent of Michigan residents age 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose.

The COVID-19 death toll has started soaring again as the delta variant of the coronavirus tears through the nation’s unvaccinated population and fills up hospitals with patients, many of whom are younger than patients typically were during earlier phases of the pandemic.

“You can see the direction it is going,” Duggan said. “It is a matter of time until it hits Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin. I don’t know if that’s September, October, November, but if you look at the pattern of what’s happened over and over, there is a good degree of likelihood that Florida’s July could be Michigan’s November.”

Cases in Detroit rose from fewer than 16 per day in late June to 67 on Aug. 2. Detroit also is experiencing an increase in hospitalizations, according to city Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair.

“If we had more people to get the vaccine we would get to community immunity — which is 70 percent of the community getting the vaccine,” she said.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Detroit has recorded more than 52,800 cases and more than 2,300 deaths.

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