Your guide to getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Metr...

Your guide to getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Metro Detroit

Breaking down where and how to get your shot -- and everything else you're wondering about.

health care worker administering a vaccine

Update, March 29: Detroit has expanded eligibility to all residents ages 16 and up and is offering Johnson & Johnson vaccines at one site.

We’ve been fielding plenty of questions from Detour readers about the wild and wacky world of getting a COVD-19 vaccine — here’s what they’re asking, and the answers we’ve found that may help you. Things are changing by the day, so we’re doing our best to keep this up-to-date with the freshest info.

Do you have a question about how to get vaccinated or how it’s all gonna work? We’re here to help. Chat with us on Insta or in the Detour Facebook group. We work for you — and we’ll work to get you the answers you need!  

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan?

As of March 22, anyone in Michigan age 50+ is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and anyone age 16 or older with a condition that has disabilities and/or medical conditions that put them at risk for severe COVID-19 disease, as well as their caregiver family members and guardians. 

From the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:

Medical conditions that place individuals at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 are eligible for vaccination and include: cancer; chronic kidney disease; COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); Down syndrome; heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies; immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant; obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2 ); severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2 ); pregnancy; sickle cell disease; smoking; and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Caregiver family members and guardians who care for children with special health care needs are also eligible.

The city of Detroit has expanded eligibility to all residents ages 16 and up, adults who live elsewhere but work on-site in the city.

All Michigan adults age 16 or older will be eligible for a vaccine on April 5.

How do I sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine?

There are several ways to sign up, and many people are taking multiple paths at once. For help, tips and moral support, you may want to check out the Detroit Area Vaccine Hunters Facebook group.

The main paths to signing up for a COVID-19 in Metro Detroit are as follows:

Detroit residents and workers eligible under city guidelines: Schedule an appointment at TCF Center by calling 313-230-0505 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Additional Saturday appointments are also available — on  This Saturday, April 3, Detroit will administer doses at three community sites in addition to TCF Center, open to Detroiters age 18 or older or those whose job in Detroit requires them to work on-site. Those include Great Faith Ministries on Oakman, Galilee Baptist Church on East Outer Drive and the Northwest Activities Center. The first two locations will administer Moderna. Northwest Activities Center will administer Johnson & Johnson shots, so if you’re a Detroiter (or Detroit worker) and want a one & done, that’s your ticket. More info here.

County Health Departments: Get on the waiting list for a vaccine through your local county health department. Find your local health department here.

Hospitals: Get on your hospital system’s waiting list. This typically entails setting up an online user account with the hospital’s patient tracking system. You can look into next steps at the following hospitals: 

Ford Field: Sign up for the mass vaccination clinic at Ford Field, now open. You can get your name on the waiting list even if you are not yet eligible by signing up via the Meijer-operated registration portal at clinic.meijer.com/register/CL2021, or by texting EndCOVID to 75049. You can also call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1).

Pharmacies: Local pharmacies currently approved to carry the COVID-19 vaccine include Rite-Aid, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Kroger and access is currently expanding. Pro tip: Use the independently created Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine Spotter Tool to identify pharmacies with openings (they go fast). You’ll have to pass an eligibility screener at each pharmacy’s website to schedule an appointment. Pharmacies are private companies; they can and do enforce their own eligibility requirements that can vary from the state’s. Check with each pharmacy to determine if you qualify.

State hotline: Call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 hotline to register, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., at 888-535-6136. You can also email COVID19@michigan.gov.

What’s the deal with the Ford Field site? Why does Metro Detroit have a mass vaccination center, and other areas don’t?

The Ford Field site, supported by the state, city, Wayne County, Henry Ford Health System, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Meijer, is a FEMA Type 1 site that will operate seven days a week for eight weeks. It is one of 18 locations selected through the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, designed to get shots in the arms of low-income populations and people of color. 

The center will be allocated 42,000 doses a week, with about 30,000 distributed at Ford Field and the rest via mobile clinics. As of Monday, 110,000 people were pre-registered to receive the COVID-19 shot at Ford Field. The doses are in addition to the state’s normal dose allotment. 

There are two separate registration portals run by Meijer (pharmacies and Ford Field) — should I only register at one? 

Although both the Meijer pharmacy registration and the Ford Field registration look similar and are both operated by Meijer, they are not the same. You need to register specifically for the Ford Field event if you want to attend, regardless of if you have already registered for a Meijer store clinic. The Ford Field event is a separate clinic registry.

Ford Field registry
Meijer pharmacy clinic waiting list

How are appointments being scheduled at Ford Field?

Once you have signed up through the Meijer portal, you will receive a text message with a link that is good for 24 hours. When you sign up for an appointment, you’ll be asked a series of questions including information on race and ethnicity. You’ll then be routed to a vaccine scheduler where you’ll be asked to select a date and time. The vaccine doses will be prioritized based on the Center for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index.   

I’m scheduled at Ford Field — where do I go?

Park for free at the gate designated in your registration information. You’ll encounter registration procedures including a no-contact temperature and health check. No insurance required, wear a mask and keep a safe 6 feet of social distance.

I’ve seen people holding multiple pharmacy appointments — is that necessary? 

Though we’ve seen individuals doing this to double their chances of getting an appointment, officials don’t specifically recommend making multiple appointments, and it can cause issues. Some have had appointments canceled, and some people have doubled up on booking appointments. When appointments go unfilled, pharmacies administering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines must scramble to get leftover doses in people’s arms before they expire.

Can I register at a pharmacy if I’m not eligible yet? 

You can, but you would need to lie in the screening process. We’ve heard of plenty of people lying in the eligibility screeners, making an appointment, and then getting turned away at the pharmacy. But others have gotten through. Reportedly, pharmacies are not requiring proof of medical conditions or caregiver status, but we’ve heard reports of some turning people away based on age. Others have lied about age to get an appointment for this week, when they are technically eligible under state guidance.

Why are some eligible people still having trouble getting shots? 

We’ve heard about a lot of people, especially older people, who have had trouble getting shots. One reason might be that the registration systems, particularly the pharmacy signups, favor a degree of tech-savviness. Groups like the Vaccine Angels have formed to help seniors navigate the system. You can view the metrics for which groups have received doses here. If you’re having trouble booking an appointment, let us know. 

Should I get the vaccine if I had COVID-19? What if it was recent — do I have to wait?

You should definitely still get the shot. Experts are not sure how long natural immunity lasts or how robust that immunity is compared with what you’ll get from the vaccine. And some people suffering with “long-COVID” have reported feeling better after having the vaccine.  If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. When you register for an appointment, booking systems will ask you a series of health questions, including about any experience with COVID-19, to determine if you can be safely vaccinated.

Should I still get tested for COVID-19 (if you don’t have serious symptoms) even though vaccines are on the way?

You should get tested because if you do have COVID-19, you should not get the vaccine until you meet criteria for recovery.

Can I choose which vaccine I receive? 

Public health experts advise taking whichever vaccine is available to you; all three currently available (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are highly effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19. Pfizer and Moderna require two boosters, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot. In Detroit, the Northwest Activities Center will be administering the J&J vaccine on Saturday, April 3 with more dates to follow, whereas the TCF Center offers both Moderna and Pfizer’s. Ford Field will administer doses of the Pfizer vaccine for its first six weeks, followed by two weeks of the Johnson & Johnson. 

What do I do if I have a strong negative reaction to the vaccine?

CDC guidelines state that everyone who gets the COVID-19 vaccine should be monitored at the site for at least 15 minutes. For those who have previously had allergic reactions to vaccines, monitoring should last 30 minutes. If you have a severe reaction, they can provide emergency medical care on site. 

After you’ve gone home, it’s important to keep in mind that certain side effects are common, including pain or swelling on the site of the shot, as well as fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, headache and fever for up to several days afterwards. 

Can I still get vaccinated if I have had reactions to past vaccines?

Yes, but be sure to disclose this at the vaccine site so you can be monitored afterwards. 

Do certain vaccines have different age restrictions?

Yes. According to MDHHS, “individuals 16 and 17 years of age must receive the Pfizer vaccine only. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are only recommended for those 18 years and older.”

Who is paying for vaccines?

You won’t have to pay for the vaccine out-of-pocket. But if you have health insurance, it may be billed an administrative fee. Pharmacies will bill your insurance. If you are uninsured, the administration fee will be paid for by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider’s Relief Fund, NOT you.

What personal information is being collected by vaccine administrators? Will it be saved? How will it be used?

The Center for Disease Control is collecting data on names, addresses, ethnicities and birthdays of vaccine recipients. The data will be used to understand vaccine distribution and track adverse events. Officials say the data will not be shared with other federal agencies or used for other purposes. 

Pharmacies can collect data when you register for a shot. Major chains like CVS say they are using customer information (like your phone number) for communication, marketing and promotion

I got my shot and I am so excited. Can I post my vaccine card on social media?

That’s not a good idea —  it’s an invitation to identity theft. Instead, you can post a photo of your Bandaid?

How can I volunteer with vaccine distribution or outreach? 

There’s no central repository for volunteer opportunities; we advise actively listening on social media and following the Detroit Area Vaccine Hunters Facebook group. Let us know if you have a volunteer opportunity tip.

Additional reporting by Aaron Mondry.

Nina Misuraca Ignaczak is a contributing editor for Detour Detroit. She is the founder and executive editor of Planet Detroit, a digital media startup that tells Detroit’s environmental stories while building a community of engaged readers who are informed and empowered to act personally and publicly. She is an award-winning freelance journalist who writes, edits and produces stories about the environment, place and identity. Her recent work has been published by Detour Detroit, Belt Magazine, HuffPost, Detroit Free Press, WDET, Crains Detroit Business, Business Insider, Curbed Detroit and Model D. Prior to her career in journalism, she worked in urban planning in the local government and nonprofit sectors. She has a Master of Science in Natural Resource Ecology and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Twitter: @ninaignaczak