GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On August 4, it’ll be Ladell Eaton’s 62nd birthday. However, on Thursday he gave himself an early birthday gift: the COVID-19 vaccination.
“Well, I’m glad I did,” Ladell said during an interview with FOX 17. “I’m glad I did ‘cause I want to be prepared for my trip.”
Ladell said he's heading home to Louisiana for his birthday to see family he hasn't seen in five years.
However, for weeks this year he was nervous about getting the shot. It wasn't until he heard stories of others getting sick due to the virus that he decided to get it. So, when he ran into health department volunteers outside of the Great Giant Supermarket, who told him about their on-site vaccine clinic in the parking lot, he walked over and got it.
“It’s so convenient instead of going downtown or going somewhere else,” Ladell said. “So, this is a blessing.”
@KCHD & Seeds of Promise holding a mobile vaccination unit at the corner of Hall St & Madison Ave. Organizers say it’s all about making the 💉 convenient for those who can’t make it to clinics elsewhere in the city … and they’ll be doing it every Thursday in July. // @FOX17 pic.twitter.com/N303FBMudE— Lauren Edwards (@LaurenEdwardsTV) July 8, 2021
Convenience was the goal said Ronald Jimmerson, executive director and co-founder of Seeds of Promise, a community-based organization located near the grocery store.
“[Local residents] can’t go across town. Fifty percent of them don’t have WiFi at home. They don’t have iPhones, so they can’t sign up,” Jimmerson said. “So, the residents said, 'Why don’t we bring the vaccines to where the people are?'”
Seeds of Promise partnered with the Kent County Health Department and Grand Rapids Proactive to hold a mobile vaccine site on Thursday beginning at 1 p.m. For a few hours, several people walked up to the clinic at the corner of Hall Street and Madison Avenue and received either the Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“It’s really important that people do get vaccinated especially with the delta variant coming now and understand the impact that it does have on people of color,” Jimmerson said. “We need to go to the people with the vaccinations and that’s what Seeds is doing.”
So far the variant hasn’t surfaced in Kent County. However, KCHD's epidemiologist Brian Hartl said it’s only a matter of time before it does.
“People who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated are more at risk for the delta variant,” Hartl said. “So, that's why we’re here, especially in neighborhoods like this where we know that the vaccination coverage is lower. So, those are the people who are going to be more at risk for the delta variant, more at risk for hospitalization.”
Hartl said the goal is still to get 70 percent of the state vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. So, they'll be holding the mobile unit in the parking lot of the Great Giant Supermarket every Thursday in July from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
And, Eaton has three words of advice for others who may be hesitant.
“Go get it.”