Keep trying, Detroit official says as 'extremely high volumes' jam new Covid shots hotline

January 11, 2021, 5:27 PM

Covid shots are more precious than PlayStation 5. Demand far exceeds supply.

Detroit's just-opened appointment hotline for residents age 75 or older, plus essential workers, was overwhelmed by "extremely high volumes," the city says. Operators working for Rock Connections, a branch of Quicken Loans, are filling 20,000 drive-through vaccine appointments through Feb. 5 at TCF Center garage.

Phone lines were jammed by 100,000 calls in four hours Monday, though most were from ineligible people.

Many callers are too young or not in qualified jobs, says Hakim Berry, the city's chief operating officer. "We do not have the capacity to answer questions from people under 75 or non-Detroiters about vaccinations in general," he says in an early afternoon statement.  "If you are not eligible to book the vaccine, please do not tie up the call lines." 

Rock Connections added 14 call center employees for a total of 56 scheduling appointments. Calling hours expand by two hours a day and will operate from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays.

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"Our system is set up so that calls will not be kept on hold if there is more than a half-hour wait to speak to a representative," Berry adds. "If your call is dropped, please call later today or anytime this week.  At any point the wait time is under 30 minutes, your call will go through.

Residents can call (313) 230-0505 if they meet one of these qualifications:

  • A Detroit resident 75 and older

  • Any “good neighbor" 65 and older who drives a 75-year-old (or older) Detroit resident to TCF

  • K-12 teachers and support staff and child care workers

The mayor's office executive adds: "We expect to be booking appointments at least through the end of the day Friday.  We will add to those appointments as fast as the federal government provides vaccines.

"We thank Detroiters for their patience in this process and, most of all, for their commitment to being vaccinated so life can get back to normal as soon as possible."

Original article, Jan. 7:

Get set to roll up your sleeves, Detroiters of an advanced age. After a slow-paced rollout since Dec. 14, the city plans to expand free vaccinations dramatically in the month ahead with drive-through lanes at TCF Center's garage. 

"Starting Monday, the City of Detroit will begin scheduling 20,000 Covid vaccination appointments at the TCF Center over the next four weeks, based on anticipated supply of vaccines from the state," a media release says Thursday afternoon. 

Those vaccines will be available to Detroiters over the age of 75.  Any 'good neighbor' driver for a 75-year-old who accompanies them to the TCF Center can also get vaccinated.

So can K-12 teachers and childcare workers.

Denise Fair, the city's chief health officer, is vaccinated late last month. (Photo: City of Detroit)

"We are going to keep ramping up our vaccinations to the maximum extent the supply allows," Mayor Duggan is quoted as saying. a state database says Detroit has given 2,035 vaccines since Dec. 14 to health workers, nursing home residents and long-term care facility employees.

A new call center, set up with Quicken Loans assistance and staffing, starts booking appointments Monday morning for age-eligible residents and city workers. Vaccinations at the convention hall garage, leased by the city, begin Wednesday and can be scheduled by calling (313) 230-0505 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. (See at-a-glance graphic below.)

Callers will be asked to give their name, address and age. Each person also gets a follow-up appointment three to four weeks later for a second-stage "booster shot."

Consent forms will be signed at TCF Center, where city workers will have to provide their latest pay stub to verify eligibility. 

Activity begins with 400 appointments Jan. 13, 600 the next day, 800 on Jan. 15 and at least 1,000 daily the week of Jan. 18, if supplies allow.

The city is recommending that when possible, eligible members of the same family or neighbors schedule jointly and arrive in the same vehicle. ...

After receiving their vaccination, individuals will be required to remain in their vehicles inside the TCF garage for a period of approximately 15 minutes to make sure they are not experiencing any side effects. Medical staff will be on hand to assist any who may experience any side effects.

Appointments should last approximately one hour once the person enters the TCF garage.

The health department also offers to vaccinate essential city workers, starting Friday with police and bus drivers. Plus, department staffers "will provide on-site vaccinations to 29 homeless shelters and 60 senior city apartments over the next six weeks," the announcement says.

Staff will visit two senior buildings and one homeless shelter every day and expect to complete their work at all 89 facilities by the end of February.

"Congregate living can increase frequency of exposure to this virus, which is why we are prioritizing seniors and those experiencing homelessness by conducting vaccination outreach at these facilities across our city," says Denise Fair, chief public health officer, Detroit Health Department. "This strategy is essential to the community's overall health."

Police officers will be vaccinated precinct-by-precinct at the Detroit Fire Department’s Walter Harris training facility after the end of their shift and will be paid one hour of straight time. Transit workers get their Pfizer or Moderna shots at each DDOT terminal and also will be paid for one extra hour after their shift.

Vaccinations for those two groups are expected to take about a week. Members of other city departments providing essential services will be scheduled for employee vaccinations after then.

“Just as we did [with Covid tests] at the Fairgrounds, we will have the Quicken Loans staff that run the call center, schedule appointments at a manageable pace so we won't see the same kind of lines and waits we';ve seen in some other cities," the release quotes Chief Operating Officer Hakim Berry as saying.

For members of the public under 75, free vaccines eventually will be available at pharmacies and other sites.


Michigan Teachers, Seniors Over 65 Can Get Covid Vaccines Next Week. Jan. 6

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