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GVSU hosts first on campus COVID-19 vaccine clinic

The clinic had 1,700 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine available to students and staff.

Due to a pause on the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, Grand Valley State University's vaccination clinic carried on with the use of Pfizer doses on Friday. 

The single dose J&J shot had been ideal for college and university campuses where students will soon head home for summer. Sixteen-thousand doses had been shipped to several dozen campuses in Michigan this week, only for federal officials to call for a pause on the vaccine's use Tuesday. 

Instead, Metro Health was able to supply GVSU with 1,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses three weeks apart. 

While students were asked to only sign up if they could receive both shots on campus, Jean Nagelkerk, the university's vice provost of health, said more students signed up after the change in vaccine. 

"Actually, we had an increase in turnout once we said that we were doing the Pfizer vaccine so the response has been very good," Nagelkerk said Friday.

Over 900 students, staff and faculty members had signed up to receive a shot GVSU's Fieldhouse, and about midway through the day the clinic opened up to walk-ins, as well.

Freshman Zachary Grasley was among the students vaccinated. He said it was worth it to make the trip back to campus from Illinois next month for his second dose. 

And he's hopeful for a different experience sophomore year. 

"With all the online classes...it's hard," Grasley said. "It's just not what I expected coming into my freshman year of college, but hopefully with this vaccine and things getting better—it'll make an improvement for next year."

The National Guard, Metro Health and volunteers from GVSU helped run the clinic. 

Jacob Lowell, with Michigan Air National Guard, was among those administering vaccines, he is also a junior at GVSU.

"It's awesome. It's great to be able to vaccinate my fellow students," Lowell said. 

The vaccine is not currently a requirement at GVSU, and university officials have said they hope it won't need to be. Nagelkerk said the clinic helped make the shot more accessible to students. 

"They want to protect themselves, their loved ones, they want to protect the Grand Valley community and the community at large so we're thrilled," she said. 

Future clinics will be based on need or demand. 

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