Spectrum Health began offering COVID-19 vaccines Monday to people eligible under a second phase of a statewide vaccination rollout. The health system plans to expand the effort to additional locations and set up mobile clinics in the days ahead.
The Grand Rapids health system started providing the vaccine this morning by appointment only at an administration building on 60th Street for people 75 and older and for essential workers such as teachers, child care providers and people who work in law enforcement.
“We look forward to getting as many people vaccinated as possible,” Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker said Monday during a media briefing. “Our goal is to get shots in arms.”
Amid high demand and a limited supply of doses, Monday was the first day care providers could extend vaccinations to the next phase under guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued last week. Previously, vaccinations were open to medical workers and staff and residents at long-term care facilities.
Freese Decker expects Spectrum Health to vaccinate 10,000 people by the end of this week. The health system is only scheduling vaccinations for people based on the supply on hand and is continuing vaccinations for medical staff in the Phase 1A category, she said.
Mercy Health and Metro Health-University of Michigan Health as well started vaccinations Monday for people who meet Phase 1B criteria.
Metro Health has already booked appointments through Jan. 18 and “we are not going to be opening up the schedule for further dates until we get our next shipment of vaccines,” according to a spokesperson.
Spectrum Health by noon Monday had vaccinated 575 people who meet Phase 1B criteria after opening the clinic at 6 a.m., Spectrum Health West Michigan President Darryl Elmouchi said. About 11,000 people have already made appointments to get vaccinated, 6,400 of whom are 75 and older. Another 3,500 are teachers or school staff, he said.
Spectrum Health is setting up similar clinics at its regional hospitals and — working with other health systems and local health departments — will open mobile clinics that will “target populations that are underserved and may not have access to the electronic means” to schedule appointments, Elmouchi said.
Spectrum Heath Lakeland in St. Joseph was to start vaccinations later Monday for people eligible under Phase 1B guidelines. Clinics at Zeeland Community Hospital and Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings should start vaccinations Wednesday and scale them up further next week, Elmouhci said.
“We really are rallying all of our troops to do this as quickly as we can,” he said. “Across all of our region, our hope would be by the end of the week we have clinics pretty much everywhere and then we start opening these mobile clinics as early as next week.”
The health system presently has about 20,000 doses on hand, said Elmouchi, who expects that Spectrum Health can vaccinate “thousands” of people a day at the South Pavilion clinic.
Spectrum Health will not open appointments for next week until “we get more vaccines from the government,” he said. The health system expects to get more doses “any day now,” and should receive 3,000 of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine. Elmouchi was unsure of what’s on the way from Moderna Inc.
“We would love as much vaccine as we can have and we will put those in arms as quickly as we can,” Elmouchi said. “I just ask people to have patience because the demand is obviously incredibly high and we’re doing our best.
“The only limitation over the coming weeks will be vaccine allotment to the state and ultimately to us, and we’re sure hopeful that that will continue to expand.”
Spectrum Health has a “very large number of people that we’re hoping to vaccinate over the course of the coming weeks and months,” Elmouchi said. An estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people in Spectrum Health’s database of 700,000 patients are eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1B criteria, he said.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to say Spectrum Health’s clinic that opened Monday is at an administrative building on 60th Street.