GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sharon Budd had her 91-year-old mother and the people who live at the senior community where she works in mind when she registered for the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I would hate to be a carrier and not know it and give it to somebody, and if this way, it stops it, then that's what I'll do," Budd said.
Budd was surprised that within a week of registering she was able to schedule at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at Devos Place.
"Little scared, but okay," Budd said as she waited for her appointment in downtown Grand Rapids.
Budd was one of 12,000 others scheduled to receive the vaccine at the clinic on Monday.
It was the largest single-day clinic in Michigan to date, according to the state health department.
"Today is a really important day for us," said Brian Brasser, chief operating officer of Spectrum Health Grand Rapids.
The large scale clinic, which is the result of a partnership between the Kent County Health Department, Spectrum Health and Mercy Health Saint Mary's, has sat empty at times awaiting vaccine supply, despite having the capacity to vaccinate upwards of 20,000 people per day.
As of Monday, the clinic's waitlist, which is run by Spectrum Health, has been cleared for those currently eligible.
"In the next eight days, we expect to give about 50,000 doses," Brasser said.
Vaccine allotments to Michigan have been increasing a bit over the last few weeks, and the state is opening up the vaccine to everyone over the age of 16 starting April 5.
Some vaccine providers have opened up to the general public already, but Spectrum Health is following state guidelines.
Those eligible for the vaccine include:
- Healthcare workers
- Frontline workers in critical infrastructure
- Anyone 50+
- 16+ with a disability, pre-existing health condition (and their family caregivers or guardian)
About 1,000 people were vaccinated per hour at the 12-hour clinic, and 600 staff members (split between paid and volunteer) kept the operations moving.
"We worked very hard to set up the clinic to be as efficient as possible," Brasser said.
Most patients said they were in and out within 15 minutes.
"We can't stop smiling," said Markeith Bowens, who received the shot along with his fiancé Celina Navarro. "That's why my glasses are fogging up, I can't stop smiling, so we're happy. We feel good. We hope everybody else gets out and gets the shot."
But, the single-day vaccination record comes the same day that Spectrum Health had to bring back visitor restrictions at its hospitals as cases and hospitalizations pick back up.
"We're very concerned that we may see a surge in vaccine availability coinciding with a surge in hospital activity that could make this much more challenging," Brasser said.
Brasser urged people to stay vigilant.
"We are very concerned with the numbers that we're seeing, and are hopeful that we can turn it around," he said.
The clinic at Devos Place is one strategy the health department and health systems are using to vaccinate. Community pop up and drive thru clinics are also being utilized.
For more information on other clinics visit vaccinatewestmi.com.
You can also call the Spectrum Health COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center at 833-755-0696. The line is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
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