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Curbside vaccinations help fight decreasing immunization numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Spectrum Heath offers drive up vaccinations for patients.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The number of children being vaccinated in Michigan has dropped by 20% since the pandemic started, according to a new study by the CDC. This decrease in immunizations isn't good, since Michigan already ranks 25th in the nation when it comes to vaccination rates.

The CDC report also found that less than 50% of five-month-old infants were up to date on their vaccinations, and measles vaccinations dropped by 76% among children under two in Michigan since May of 2019.

The concern about these dropping vaccination rates is that there could be an epidemic during the pandemic, which would add stress to the health care system. Last year, West Michigan saw three outbreaks of measles.

Spectrum Health is putting a new twist on how people can get vaccines in hopes of raising vaccination rates. They recently started giving patients the option to get their vaccines curbside.

"What we're trying to do here is make every effort to meet the patient at their comfort level," said Mary Zimmerman, Immunization program manager for Spectrum Health. "Our idea here was curbside immunizations so they can pull up and get there immunizations in the comfort and safety of their car." 

The curbside immunizations are available for adults and children and take less than five minutes. You simply make an appointment, pull into a designated space, call the number to let them know you're there and you get your vaccine right through the window of your car.

"It's changed no doubt, but this certainly is easy. So there's no reason not to go. If you're afraid of other people and contact with them here you go! Do it," said patient Mike Meulenberg. 

In fact, Meulenberg liked the option so much he signed up for his next appointment before he left.

Another benefit to the curbside vaccine service is that it's also good for children with special needs and patients who have trouble walking. 

In addition to immunizations, patients can also get B12 and testosterone and yes, even the flu shot when it becomes available.

Curbside visits are now available at Kentwood Family Medicine, Rivertown Internal Medicine/Pediatrics and Grand Rapids Pediatrics – 68th Street.

Spectrum Health hopes to have curbside vaccine service available at all their locations by the end of August.

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