W. Michigan health systems are ready to meet April 5 vaccine expansion

The state announced that all Michiganders 16 and up will be eligible
Posted at 3:10 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 16:54:03-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A big announcement Friday from the state: All adult Michigander’s will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5th.

RELATED: Michigan: All adults eligible for vaccine April 5

It’s a month before the deadline President Biden announced Thursday night, to have all adult Americans eligible by May 1st.

Local health systems in West Michigan said that they are ready to meet the deadline and the demand.

“We get very excited about it, because what that means is that the vaccine supply is coming,” said Chad Tuttle, the Sr. Vice President of Hospital Operations with Spectrum Health.

Tuttle told FOX 17 that the vaccine supply will need to increase 500% to meet that April 5th goal.

He said, “This week we did 25,000 doses, so when we talk about an increase like that, what we are talking about is doing somewhere between 125,000 and 150,000 doses per week.”

Tuttle knows it’s a big task, but thinks they’ll be able to pull it off.

“It certainly won’t be without challenges, but the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic is an absolute gift in our community. We vaccinated 8000 people there yesterday in eight hours,” he said.

That effort on Thursday, was something of a stress test for what’s to come.

Tuttle explained, “What we’re building up to is the ability to do 20,000 people per day at the West Michigan vaccine clinic, running about a 12 to 14 hour day.”

The Kent County Health department says the mass vaccination site at DeVos place is running efficiently, but they’re asking for patience with parking and waiting lines.

Dr. Nirali Bora, MD the Medical Director at the Kent County Health Department said, “As the volume increases, they are working on so many different strategies to help with things like a cell phone waiting lot for people who are dropping people off there; a lot of innovative ideas that they’ve been working through to make the process smooth.”

SEE MORE: Mass vaccination clinic opens at DeVos place in Downtown Grand Rapids

Dr. Bora added that there’s lso other options for those who maybe can’t make it to DeVos place.

“We also have a system to be able to vaccinate people at community sites, so for people who getting to a mass vaccination site is challenging for a number of different reasons, there are locations in town where they can also get it,” she said.

The health systems admit that it’s been a slow start to the vaccine rollout.

Tuttle said, “Testing for COVID kind of had the same thing; we had fits and starts, we didn’t have volumes, and then all of a sudden boom, the supply chain opened up and we can test anybody, anywhere, any day at this point, because we’ve got the supply and the exact same thing is happening with vaccine.”

He added that this a sign things are picking up.

SEE MORE: Ford Field to become regional vaccination site

“We have that hope of ‘there’s the finish line,’ and when we cross it, things will be better, our economy will be able to get more open, and that’s really the point that we’re at. We are starting to see the finish line and so means we really need to ramp up and really lean in. We know it’ll be a lot of work but it’s so exciting to see that finish line,” he said.

Spectrum Health is encouraging all adults who want a vaccine to get registered right now, so as soon as that eligibility window opens up, they’ll be able to start sending out invitations right away.