By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Seniors in the city’s high-rise housing units will have COVID-19 vaccines brought to them this week, City Council President Susan Dabaja announced at the city’s Feb. 25 bi-weekly COVID-19 forum.
The forum, streamed live on the City of Dearborn Government Facebook page, was co-moderated by Councilwoman Erin Byrnes, with speakers Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun (D-13th District), and Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn Chief Operating Officer Thomas Lanni Jr.
Baydoun said the county decided that it needed to go out into the community with the COVID-19 vaccines to supplement work being done by local hospitals.
He said Wayne County has been divided into four regions, based on what is being described as a region’s “social vulnerability index,” which is a guideline from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which takes into account economic factors, like poverty and transportation accessibility.
Baydoun said Dearborn is in a region with Garden City, Dearborn Heights, Inkster and Allen Park.
He said that in the next week, all of Dearborn’s seniors in the city’s high-rise housing will begin to receive vaccines.
“The plan is to have initially 3,000 vaccines coming to Dearborn starting next week, in addition to the 1,500 vaccines that were picked up today, which will be given to all the seniors in the high-rise buildings,” Baydoun said.
He said 1,500 vaccines were scheduled to be administered Feb. 26 to 28 to seniors who are not supposed to leave their buildings, by trained public safety personnel.
The senior buildings include Hubbard Manor East, Hubbard Manor West, Townsend Towers, Kennedy Plaza, Sisson Manor, Dearborn Town Center and Morley Manor.
The trained public safety personnel will go to senior housing in Dearborn Heights, Garden City and Allen Park next week, as well, to vaccinate seniors, at the request of those cities.
Lanni said Beaumont Dearborn opened up its own vaccine clinic Jan. 20 in the building across the street from the hospital, and 17,000 people have been vaccinated at that site since then, with 14,000 receiving their first dose, and 3,000 receiving their second dose.
“We are making some progress, but it is really dependent on the availability of the vaccine that is coming to us,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but there are a lot of great individuals, our nursing staff, our teams who are out there, really giving back to the community and making sure that we can get those who want to get vaccinated signed up, and in the process and the queue to get vaccinated.”
Lanni said Beaumont is working within CDC and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, and is vaccinating people designated in phase 1-B of the plan, which are people 65 and older, and essential, front-line workers, including first responders, and, potentially, teachers.
“Unfortunately, because of the limitations we have had at Beaumont with vaccinations being received, we have only focused on the 65 and older population, and essential workers within health care,” he said. “We are trying to get our own employees vaccinated, as well as the community of 65 and older.”
Baydoun said Wayne County has vaccinated 15,000 school employees, 14,000 health care employees, 3,000 dental workers, 3,000 law enforcement personnel and emergency medical service workers, and more that 2,500 pharmacy employees.
“All the teachers that requested to be vaccinated in Wayne County have been vaccinated,” he said. “If there is a teacher out there that has not received the vaccine, and would like to be vaccinated, reach out, and we will arrange for you, because you are in the group that qualifies for the vaccine at this stage.”
Baydoun said the Wayne County Health Department learns each Friday afternoon how many vaccines it will have for the upcoming week.
The county is offering a drive-through vaccination program, while Beaumont is offering a program where one goes into the facility to be vaccinated.
Baydoun said the people he has seen getting vaccinations respond with relief, especially those with underlying health conditions.
Lanni added that those who were vaccinated were grateful.
“People would cry, and there was a sense of joy and relief at being able to get the vaccine and start a newer life,” he said. “They have been locked up or haven’t been able to do things, and people are so grateful that we are doing this now, and getting that sense of that light at the end of the tunnel.”