WATCH: Whitmer discusses mass vaccination clinic at Ford Field

Posted at 10:27 AM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 11:41:50-04

DETROIT — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a news conference Thursday morning to discuss the new mass vaccination site at Ford Field.

She was joined by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and officials from FEMA, Meijer and local health systems.

The site opens March 24 and will be the state's largest effort to date to get shots in arms.

RELATED: Ford Field to open vaccination clinic next week

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More than 40,000 people were registered in the first 24 hours after registration for the site opened earlier this week, and that number has bumped up to about 65,000 as of Thursday morning, Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes said.

In total, the retailer's pharmacy has been able to administer more than 225,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Michiganders and a total of about 350,000 to people in communities the retailer serves in the Midwest.

FEMA expects to be able to vaccinate tens of thousands of Michiganders at Ford Field in the coming weeks.

The location of this new mass vaccination clinic was based on the federal government's commitment to the equitable distribution of vaccines, FEMA said.

Decisions for sites and mobile clinics included local input and public health data, such as the CDC's social vulnerability index, Census data, and localized considerations like the existing deployment of resources and feedback from the state's public health experts.

"Ford Field not only provides the necessary space and structure to administer up to 6,000 doses a day, but it's also a prominent facility within the Detroit area, uniquely suited to support the disadvantaged and medically underserved populations here in the city," said Kevin M. Sligh Sr., region 5 acting regional administrator at FEMA.

Officials are also reminding residents -- especially those who opted to be contacted for vaccine appointments by phone -- to answer calls, even if they're from an unidentified number.

Whitmer, using sports analogies, reiterated the importance of staying the course even toward the end of the pandemic.

"The game's not over yet," she said. "There's no time to spike the football. It's time for us to grit our teeth and keep doing the work we need to do until the last second of this event plays out."

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SEE MORE: How you can get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Michigan