DEARBORN — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Protect Michigan Commission recently selected the Dearborn Fire Department and ACCESS to encourage more equitable vaccine distribution in more vulnerable communities.
ACCESS and the Fire Department are among 22 pilot sites to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Within the first week of the project, both sites met their vaccine administration goals of 2,500 doses per site.
ACCESS offered free van transportation to its clinic to those needing assistance, while the Dearborn Fire Department traveled to 14 senior complexes throughout the seven communities that are being serviced by the consolidated vaccine clinic.
Mona Makki, ACCESS’ Community Health and Research Center director, said that ACCESS has vaccinated at least 5,500 residents since the first day.
“We first partnered with Meijer, we have partnered with FEMA and Henry Ford,” she said. “We have long lines every day. ACCESS has removed all barriers, no appointments are needed and we have translators available.”
Makki also said that people need to do their part and get vaccinated.
“We have lost so many people,” she said. “COVID has taken so many lives and has hit our home. It’s not just protecting yourself. COVID is wicked, it impacts people differently. We are a tight knit community and we love each other. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated because this is so serious and we shouldn’t take the risk.”
Dearborn Fire Chief Joe Murray said that he has received positive feedback from the community.
“All of the seniors we visited were really appreciative,” he said. “Some even cried. We made a coordinated effort to get vaccines to the most vulnerable population quickly. Our firefighters are excited about it and are excited to keep doing it. This is just one example of us getting out to help the community.”
With the efforts at the senior living complexes and the consolidated vaccine clinic, Murray said that more than 33,000 shots have been distributed in total by the fire department.
“All three vaccines are safe and effective,” he said. “Of the 33,000 shots given out, very few people have had an adverse reaction, but any of that is better than the alternative. Most people are out and done with their shots within 20 minutes and we try to make it as easy as possible for everyone, including offering night time hours next week.”
Makki said an issue she sees is there’s no way of determining just how many Arab Americans have been vaccinated.
“The number of vaccinated Arab Americans is very low, but unfortunately we aren’t considered a minority,” she said. “Just because we don’t have the exact data broken down doesn’t mean we should take the risk. I understand that people are uncertain about the vaccine, but this virus is deadly. If anyone is considered about receiving the vaccine during Ramadan, I encourage them to reach out to their faith leaders. We just want people to continue to do the right thing and get vaccinated, wear their masks and social distance.”
Murray said that the efforts are nowhere near complete.
“We have received so much support from the mayor, the Council, the community and businesses, but we aren’t done yet,” he said. “If there are people who are homebound due to mobility issues, we are making accommodations to go to them to give them a vaccine. We have firefighters out every day doing house runs for residents that cannot leave. We just want to help the community and get everyone vaccinated.”
Residents with mobility issues who would like to receive a COVID vaccine can call the Dearborn Fire Department at 313-943-2277 to request a home vaccine.