Members of local fire departments deliver the vaccine in the drive-thru vaccine distribution facility at Lakeside Mall March 31.

Members of local fire departments deliver the vaccine in the drive-thru vaccine distribution facility at Lakeside Mall March 31.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


COVID-19 immunizations begin at Lakeside Mall

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published April 2, 2021

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STERLING HEIGHTS — For people signed up in advance, it’s now possible to get their shopping and their COVID-19 shot done in the same car trip.

Inoculations began at Lakeside Mall March 31 following the inauguration of a new drive-thru site that was organized in large part by the city of Sterling Heights. The facility occupies what used to be a Sears auto center, and the city of Sterling Heights in February approved a proposal to get a lease for the property so vaccinations could take place there. Vaccine center hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesdays-Saturdays.

The city said March 31 on Facebook that the facility has packed its appointments full “for the next few weeks.”

During an on-site morning press conference announcing the opening, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said the new Lakeside site is an opportunity not just for Sterling Heights residents, but for residents throughout Macomb County. He also expressed his excitement about the opening as a way to continue the positive momentum of expanding vaccination options and access.

“And what better backdrop than Lakeside Mall?” Taylor said. “We’re really excited about the potential for redevelopment here, but we’re not going to get back to normal until we get these vaccines in people’s arms.”

Trained firefighters and health professionals administer the shots. According to Sterling Heights Fire Chief Kevin Edmond, the Lakeside site has a checkpoint where people in their vehicles enter to confirm their vaccination appointments. Since the facility doesn’t do walk-in vaccinations, people who don’t have appointments will learn how to properly make them, he explained.

Edmond said those who get shots will be screened and vaccinated before they then drive around to a waiting area for monitoring. If it’s their first shot, they also will be able to arrange a second appointment as needed.

Besides Sterling Heights and its Fire Department, the Lakeside facility came about through the help of Shelby Township and its Fire Department, Macomb County and Silver Pine Family Physicians.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the Lakeside site is the county’s ninth vaccination site and the third drive-thru.

“Although I got to say, this is probably the premier drive-thru here in Macomb County,” he said.

Hackel said the county did an incredible job reaching out to vulnerable seniors ages 60 and older. About 65% of Macomb County seniors 60 and older have had at least their first vaccine dose, he said.

“We have a special location for seniors here in Macomb county, still,” Hackel said.

Hackel mentioned that Macomb County, that very day, was opening up vaccines to anyone 16 or older.

“We have come to the realization that the numbers are changing. We are starting to see that higher numbers are impacting people at younger age categories,” he said. “We need to start being more specific to dealing with the younger population.”

Macomb County Health Department Director Andrew Cox said “weeks and weeks of planning” goes into setting vaccination sites like the Lakeside one. He expected as many as 5,000 people or even more per week will get vaccinations, thanks to the new opening, and he added that the vaccine rollout is a way to slow the spread of the virus.

“We’ve seen an increase over the last two weeks of 118% in rise of cases,” he said.

However, he explained that vaccinations have been shown to make a difference.

“If you look at the numbers and you see the seniors, you can see the drastic decrease in hospitalizations and deaths,” he said. “And that is a tribute to all the vaccination efforts that have been done.”

Lakeside isn’t the first vaccine station that Sterling Heights city officials have celebrated. Several weeks ago, the city transformed its senior center into a vaccination site with the help of Macomb County.

On March 27, the Sterling Heights announced on Facebook that the Sterling Heights Senior Center clinic, a Macomb County vaccination site, gave 985 COVID-19 vaccine doses to county residents March 19-25; 69% of those doses went to Sterling Heights residents, officials explained.

“At this time, we are excited to report that no vaccine has gone unused, spoiled, expired or wasted!” the post added.

To obtain a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, visit macombgov.org/covidvaccine. Learn more about the vaccines in general by visiting macombgov.org/vaccine central.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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