GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Since Mercy Health received their first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine in mid-December, they’ve administered a total of 10,700 vaccinations. Of that number, over 9,000 frontline and healthcare workers received the first shot, while 1,300 got both shots.
Dr. Andrew Jameson said Mercy Health is prepared to give the second dose to all who’ve gotten the first one.
“We are making sure that we have enough for that 2nd dose,” said Dr. Jameson, Infectious Disease Division Chief and Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Mercy. “It’s a little bit interesting because we are not exactly told how much we’re getting until the very end of the previous week. We didn’t know how much vaccine we were getting this week until Friday of last week.”
So, he said what they’re doing is opening a certain amount of space and slots a week in advance. Once it’s booked, it’s closed and they only give shots, first or second, to the people signed up. Then once that round is complete, they’ll book more people for the following week.
“We’re only kind of doing a week rolling at a time in order to be sure that we have enough vaccine to hit all those people that are coming back for second shots,” he said.
Dr. Jameson stressed the importance of getting the second shot because the first one ‘peaks around 50 percent in terms of viral efficacy.’ It’s how people get COVID after getting the first shot. The second shot is what bumps the immunity up to 95 percent.
"So, what we’re recommending is that if someone misses that second shot, whether they got COVID unfortunately or whether they got sick from something else or just couldn’t do it, we’re strongly encouraging them to get it within that three-week mark,” Dr. Jameson. “If they can’t, they’re supposed to get it as soon as possible afterwards.”
This week, Mercy will be administering vaccine shots to Grand Rapids police officers and public school teachers and staff as part of Phase 1b. Dr. Jameson said some may experience side effects, like fatigue and a low-grade fever up to 101. However, after 24-48 hours, they should feel better.
“The reality is it’s so much better than COVID,” Dr. Jameson said. “It’s so much better than giving your grandmother COVID and then having her die on you. That’s the reality of where we’re at.”