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Mark Van Dyke, the manager of business assurance at Spectrum Health, led operations at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic. Mark Van Dyke, the manager of business assurance at Spectrum Health, led operations at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic. COURTESY PHOTO

Grand Rapids mass vaccine clinic to close after delivering nearly 250,000 doses

BY Thursday, May 06, 2021 11:21pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place downtown closes in two weeks after delivering nearly 250,000 doses in four months to people who sought COVID-19 vaccinations from as far away as the Upper Peninsula, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

The greater vaccine availability today versus four months ago at community clinics, physician offices, retail pharmacies and elsewhere — combined with a growing number of people who have been fully vaccinated — eliminates the need for continuing to operate a large-scale clinic, said Mark Van Dyke, the manager of business assurance at Spectrum Health who’s led operations at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic.

Clinic partners can now focus their efforts on small vaccination locations, he said.

“A mass vaccination site is no longer needed,” Van Dyke said. “We’re happy that we’re at this point.”

The West Michigan Vaccine Clinic opened Jan. 25 and has been operated through a partnership between Spectrum Health, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and the Kent County Health Department.

As of Thursday morning, the clinic had administered more than 214,000 vaccine doses, a level that Van Dyke calls “no small feat.” He expects that number to climb to about 240,000 by the clinic’s last day. At its peak, the clinic administered more than 12,500 vaccines in a single day on March 29.

Since April 30, the clinic has only administered second doses of the Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. vaccines, and plans to begin offering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.

The pending closing will occur about three weeks earlier than originally anticipated, Van Dyke said. The clinic drew mostly from Kent County, where residents accounted for nearly 150,000 of the vaccine doses administered so far. Residents of neighboring Ottawa County got another 30,000 doses at DeVos Place.

The clinic operated with staff from the partners and nearly 1,300 volunteers who worked just under 23,000 hours combined since Jan. 25, Van Dyke said. Several local restaurants donated food to feed health care workers staffing the clinic and volunteers, he said.

Among the lessons learned in operating a mass vaccine clinic was the value of forming partnerships to pull off a large-scale operation that had never been done before, Van Dyke said. 

“Community partners are essential to our success,” he said. “Without everyone’s assistance we would have never made it this far. Everyone knows that we experienced a pretty hard spring surge that we are just now plateauing from, and you think about all of the staff needed at all of the hospitals. That really pulled on our resources in the vaccine clinic. So, without the support of everyone, no single organization could have done this alone and been successful.

“Moving forward, we need to lean on these relationships we’re building now and see what we can do to better the health of our community.”

As of Wednesday, more than 4.1 million Michigan residents had been vaccinated, or nearly 51 percent of the state’s 8 million people who are 16 and older.

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