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Spectrum Health workers receive final dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Five Spectrum Health employees received their second dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine on Monday.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Some of the first healthcare workers to be vaccinated in the state of Michigan received their second and final dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. 

"I feel like I have a little bit of a super power in me," said Yvette Kamana, RN, a cardiothoracic ICU nurse, after receiving the shot.

Kamana has treated some of the most critically ill patients to come through Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids since the onset of the pandemic. 

"Very, very ill patients who are not awake most of the time," she said. 

Kamana was among four other Spectrum Health employees who received the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 14. On Monday, 21 days later, they received their second dose. 

In the time since those first vaccinations, Spectrum Health — with the help of the Michigan National Guard — has vaccinated over 11,000 employees and received 34,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The health system, which employs more than 31,000 people total, says everyone in the initial priority category should be able to receive their first dose of the vaccine by Jan. 8. Both of the available COVID-19 vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses, 21 and 28 days apart, respectively. 

Kamana said almost everyone on her floor has either received the first dose of the vaccine or is scheduled to receive it soon. 

"It shows you that we really believe in the science behind the vaccine, and we are protecting ourselves," she said. "It just brings a smile in my heart."

The shot, she said, was comparable to a flu vaccine. The only symptom Kamana experienced was a sore arm several days after the first dose. 

"We're getting somewhere. I feel like if many of us, especially healthcare workers, get vaccinated in higher numbers, the public will open up more and get vaccinated," she said. "And we should keep doing it."

The numbers of in patients with COVID-19 have begun to slowly drop across Spectrum Health's 14 hospitals, after reaching peak levels in November.

Kamana says the current situation is improving. But, the health system is still treating 228 COVID-19 in-patients as of Monday.

With the drop in numbers and the vaccine rollout, comes hope, Kamana says. 

"There's relief, there's hope that we'll see less critically ill patients," she said. 

Friends and family have checked in with her frequently about her experience with the vaccine, and she says her response to all of them is the same. 

"I encourage everyone, everyone I know to go get vaccinated," Kamana said. "Really everyone who asks me, I tell them when the time comes...to be vaccinated go ahead and get it, if you're not allergic to any vaccinations."

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