‘It’s the biggest tool in our tool box’: Shots in Arms campaign stops in Grand Rapids

Dozens of restaurant, retail, and hospitality workers get vaccinated at a pop-up clinic at Hilton Garden Inn Wednesday afternoon.
Posted at 7:27 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 19:55:19-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mary Wisinski has been a registered nurse for 43 years and remembers when HIV first broke out in the 1980s, and throughout the years, treating patients who suffered from the measles. However, when COVID hit in March 2020, she said she never saw anything like it.

So, to see it come to an end makes her happy.

“Any shot that goes in an arm is good with me,” Wisinski said during an interview at a pop-up vaccine clinic at the Hilton Garden Inn off the Beltline.

Wisinski, now the immunization program supervisor with the Kent County Health Department, stopped by the clinic that was solely for restaurant, retail and hospitality workers on Wednesday afternoon. It was put on by the health department, Governor Whitmer’s Protect Michigan Commission, the Small Business Association and the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, and it's all a part of the Shots in Arms campaign.

“As we open up and people feel more comfortable staying in hotels, going to restaurants, it’s another incentive for them to feel safer by having the workers and the people they serve fully vaccinated,” Wisinski said. “I think it’s also kind of a peace of mind for the workers' families knowing they’re safe.”

RELATED: CDC director urges parents to vaccinate teens, noting increased hospitalization rates

The SBA offered $50 gift cards to the first 200 people who got vaccinated, workers and family members included. Wisinski said she’s glad to see the clinic happening, considering all that she’s witnessed over the last year.

“You have no idea how it feels. I spent the last year from March 2020 until probably December doing COVID-19 testing. My team was responsible for giving results,” she recalled. “I worked a lot of 12-hour weekend days, calling 50–300 people with their results, and it felt hopeless when you tell somebody they’re positive and they’re crying.”

However, vaccines are what's bringing smiles and relief to people’s faces, she said. The clinic lasted from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. It was their fifth one so far, and their next one will be next week in Kalamazoo.

“It’s the biggest tool in our tool box: that is the step to ending this pandemic,” Wisinski said. “That’s what’s going to do it, getting vaccine in arms.”

READ MORE: Pfizer expands vaccine testing to kids under 12 years old

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