ALLENDALE, Mich. — Grand Valley State University released a statement to staff and students Thursday after a reported mix-up regarding vaccine appointments.
The school sent an email (pictured) stating that COVID-19 vaccines were available as a result of appointment cancellations; however, the email did not address eligibility requirements. In turn, students who should not have received the vaccine were able to get their first dose. Others were already waiting at the entrance when they were pulled from the line, while many more learned their appointments would be canceled.
In response to the confusion, the school issued a statement Thursday explaining the email was only intended to be sent to those in clinical roles.
GVSU’s full statement reads:
"Dear Campus Community,
"Thank you to the Laker Community for your robust response to the vaccine opportunity we shared with you yesterday. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication about scheduling, the opportunity for which should have been directed only to students and faculty in clinical roles.
"It is important that Spectrum Health, the Kent County Health Department and other health care providers follow State of Michigan eligibility requirements. Therefore, we have been notified that if you have been scheduled for a vaccine and not yet received it, your appointment will be canceled if you do not currently qualify to receive a vaccine. If you received a first dose, you will receive the second dose.
"We apologize for any frustration or confusion this may have caused for our community, but rest assured we were acting in good faith. We are doing everything we can to get the vaccine to our entire campus community as soon as we can. Our hope is that vaccine supply increases in the coming weeks so more of our community can be vaccinated as soon as possible.
"Your best opportunity to receive a vaccination is through your health care provider and county health department. Local information is available at Vaccinate West Michigan."
Prior to the cancellation, we're told several students and staff made appointments with Spectrum Health to get the vaccine only to have ineligible appointments made from Thursday to be bumped by Spectrum Health.
Junior Rebekkah Bowen was one of the students able to make an appointment. She learned three hours before her scheduled time on Thursday that her appointment was canceled. She says she felt comfortable making the appointment because the school implied the vaccine was extra and would otherwise go to waste.
"I very much so I understand. I, one hundred percent, think that people who are older and people who work in health care, I do think that they should be vaccinated first. But it really was just the implication that they were extra, and it kind of seemed like they were going to go to waste. I am 100% willing to wait my turn," said Bowen.
Workers at Devos Place flagged the error within 24 hours. In turn, the hospital system issued this statement:
"At Spectrum Health, we understand people are eager to be vaccinated, and we understand the importance of following all State and CDC guidelines in administering vaccine to those who are eligible," the healthcare system told FOX 17 when we reached out about the mix-up. "We are aware that a miscommunication at Grand Valley State University encouraged some people in the university community who were not currently eligible for vaccine to register for an appointment. Thankfully, team members at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic recognized the error in a timely fashion and corrected the communication."
Spectrum health says they will continue to follow State and CDC guidelines for vaccinating the community. It is unknown if vaccines set aside for those appointments were then redistributed to other eligible people.