Maurice Neely ate a hot dog Wednesday as he stood on the sidewalk of Hamilton Avenue near Collingwood Street in Detroit. A nurse approached him, and offered a COVID-19 vaccine.
Neely, 64, of Highland Park shook his head.
“I just have to read up on this. Do you know what I’m saying? I am from the old school. I’m not going to jump in the fire, jump in the skillet, and get burned up,” he said. “I still have questions.”
Neely had stopped by the Salvation Army’s Bed & Bread truck, which is like a soup kitchen on wheels, to get some lunch, and discovered that nurses from Central City Integrated Health, a Detroit-based federally qualified health center, were riding behind in a minivan-turned-vaccine-mobile, giving shots to people who might not be able to get them any other way.
Detroit has the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the state. Just 21.3% of city residents were fully vaccinated as of April 29, according to state data, and 30.5% of city residents had initiated the COVID-19 immunization process with at least one dose of a vaccine.
Statewide averages are far higher. Nearly 50% of Michiganders as a whole have gotten at least one dose and 37.2% of residents are fully vaccinated.
The problem for many Detroiters isn’t availability of COVID-19 vaccines, but access to them.
Neely took an information sheet from the nurse and watched as his friend, 76-year-old James Hatcher, pushed up his sleeve to get his first jab of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.