Detroit Aims “To Make Sure That Everyone Has the Opportunity To Get Vaccinated,” Health Officer Says

City of Detroit Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair says 2,000 homes have received vaccines as part of its door-to-door initiative. The city is also encouraging residents to mask up to slow the spread of the delta variant.

The City of Detroit Health Department has been going door to door since June to inoculate anyone who wants to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 2,000 homes have received vaccines through the service. The program began with homebound residents and has expanded to fill the need. This week, the city started offering a third dose of the vaccine to the immunocompromised.

According to the city, nearly 42% of residents are vaccinated, with a goal of 70%. The city’s vaccination rate lags the state’s, which is 65%. Denise Fair, the city’s chief public health officer, says going door to door is an important approach to public health. 

Listen: Denise Fair talks about the city’s approach to fighting COVID-19.

Denise Fair: So the reason why we wanted to go door to door, we want to make sure that everyone who wants to get a shot in their arm can do so. And then we have several thousands of Detroiters who are homebound. So they’re what we call the sick and shut-in, so they can’t come to any one of our large vaccination sites. So we decided to partner with the state … to get a group of nurses together. And this is actually the traditional public health approach, which is to go door to door and provide in-home care. So it’s kind of where the idea came about. The last couple of months, we have been to about 2,000 homes and we’re not going to stop there. Our goal is to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated.

WDET’s Tia Graham: As the public health officer in a city, what are your thoughts right now about where Detroit is in terms of slowing the spread?

As a health officer for the city, I am really concerned by the number of cases that we are seeing, the number of hospitalizations and cases, they’re all on the rise. And of course, the percent positivity has doubled just in the last couple of weeks. But I do want everyone to take this seriously. We know that there is a rise of the delta variant, it’s more contagious, and the most vulnerable population are now the unvaccinated. And we are now encouraging indoor masks for everyone, including the fully vaccinated to wear their masks while they are indoors at a public spot such as an auditorium, a grocery store, a gym, it’s really important for everyone to mask up because the delta variant is real. And we’re monitoring our numbers closely. But it is really important in order to stay protected for everyone, if you are vaccinated or not to put on a mask when you are indoors.

What are you telling people who have serious concerns about the information they’re reading?

The best way to get information about the vaccine is to call the health department or speak to a doctor or nurse. There’s a lot of misinformation on social media. The myths that are out there are really alarming. I saw one the other day that said if you get vaccinated, there’s a microchip that’ll be placed in you. That’s absolutely not true. I mean, that is very bizarre. But that information is out there and people are believing it. So if you have questions, you have concerns, call your doctor, call the health department, we want to address all of your fears. We really want you to feel comfortable when you take your vaccine. So please reach out. 

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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.