GRAND RAPIDS — Spectrum Health and Mercy Health plan to open a large COVID-19 vaccine clinic next week at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.
Set up with the Kent County Health Department, the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic opens Monday and will have a capacity to eventually provide up to 20,000 vaccines daily, depending on the availability of doses that remain in limited supply and have constrained vaccination efforts nationwide.
The clinic at the downtown convention center provides a large, single location to do vaccinations on a mass scale that Kent County Health Department Director Dr. Adam London said is needed to get people vaccinated quickly.
“We know that we cannot get through this without a vaccination program that is sufficiently scaled to move vaccines as quickly as possible,” London said. “We want our region to achieve population immunity as fast as possible.”
Vaccinations are by appointment only for people who meet present eligibility requirements. Appointments are available online or by calling 833-755-0696.
Partners in the DeVos Place vaccine clinic say they intend to maintain their existing vaccine clinics.
“This is in addition to what we’ve already been doing. This is another great option for another location,” said Dr. Hyung Kim, president of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
The availability of vaccine doses has been the limiting factor in how fast care providers can get people vaccinated. The state continues to refine the process for distributing and allocating limited doses, said Brian Brasser, chief operating officer at Spectrum Health Grand Rapids.
As the availability of doses becomes greater, the DeVos Place clinic gives a “compelling, compelling argument for this side of the state” to receive more vaccines, Brasser said.
“It’s hard to project when exactly we can ramp up” to 20,000 vaccinations a day, he said. “The reality is that at this time there’s a bit of an unknown. The key message is that from the west side of the state, we’re ready.”
At DeVos Place, the health department and two health systems are partnering on a vaccine clinic that can serve a wide region and is readily accessible, has available parking nearby, is located on a bus line, and has scale.
“Because of this facility’s size it will be efficient for us all to operate,” said Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan. “We’ll start small, mainly based on vaccine availability. We hope to increase capacity significantly as we receive more vaccine shipments in the coming days and weeks.”
Spectrum Health and Mercy Health are part of a large collaboration of health systems and local health departments across West Michigan that have partnered in their response to the pandemic.
Metro Health-University of Michigan Health, based in suburban Wyoming, is part of the wider collaborative but opted not to participate in the DeVos Place vaccine clinic because “they were better positioned to look southward and to look to the area where they’re physically located and to bolster those efforts in order to make vaccine more accessible in more places throughout the community,” London said.
“This is just really based on how and who this best fits for this particular site at DeVos Place,” he said.
As of Thursday, the state had received a little more than 1 million doses of the Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. vaccines. More than 598,000 doses have been administered since vaccinations began in December.