This story appeared in the Michigan Radio. Read the full story here.

The Detroit Health Department wants to make the flu vaccine more accessible to city residents this fall.

One prong of the distribution effort is to provide 6,740 free shots to people living in emergency shelters, adult foster care facilities, and senior living facilities between October 14 and Christmas.

Starting now, uninsured residents can get a free shot at a variety of locations, including the health department’s immunization clinic at 100 Mack Avenue (they can make an appointment by calling 313-876-4667).

City officials and hospital administrators are stressing the importance of getting vaccinated this year in particular.

Mayor Mike Duggan says too many flu patients could easily overwhelm hospitals facing a potential second wave of COVID-19.

“If it starts to come up in November and December, and the hospital beds are already filled with flu patients, we’re going to have another crisis,” he said.

According to the state health department’s immunization report card, the city of Detroit had the lowest vaccination rate in Michigan during the 2019-2020 flu season.

Local hospitals will be partnering with the city to address some of those issues. For example, Henry Ford Health System will be setting up flu vaccination clinics in neighborhoods with historically low vaccination rates.

Henry Ford’s chief operating officer Bob Riney says the outreach will be part of a longer-term effort to convince residents to get a future COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re going to make a contact, a relationship with them, so that ultimately when the COVID-19 vaccine comes along, we have an inroad to make sure that we’re hitting high compliance rates there as well,” he said.

Henry Ford is one of about 90 U.S. hospitals conducting a clinical trial for one of the COVID vaccine candidates.