BATTLE CREEK — As the state transitions from mass COVID-19 vaccination sites to smaller, more targeted clinics to immunize the general public, onsite employer-hosted vaccination clinics are taking on a new importance.
Kevin Carson, president of DENSO Corp.’s production facility in Battle Creek, thinks the manufacturing industry is equipped to lead the charge.
“If you stop and think about what we do — we take an idea, a concept, a prototype and get it all the way to a point where we can process it and deliver it effectively at high volumes,” Carson said. “What needs to be done with the vaccine is very similar. Someone developed the prototype, somebody handled the distribution, now we can set up a process to distribute effectively at high volumes.
“I think there is an opportunity to take what we do professionally — and what we’re good at — and put it to good use.”
DENSO, a Japan-based auto parts manufacturer with a large production facility in Battle Creek, successfully allotted 400 doses at an onsite vaccination clinic for employees last week. The company is the largest employer in the city with more than 2,800 workers as of late 2016, according to Battle Creek Unlimited.
The company partnered with the Calhoun County Health Department to obtain doses and utilize staff from an onsite health clinic to manage the effort.
Carson said DENSO’s Battle Creek operation worked closely with the health department since the start of the pandemic to stay updated on the changing health regulations and protocols. The relationship laid the groundwork for the recent onsite vaccine clinic, he said.
“We thought: How do we make it so convenient for people to get a vaccine, especially for those on the fence or questioning if it’s best for them?” Carson said.
The company worked to educate employees about the at-times divisive topic of vaccine hesitancy.
“Education is a big one and education is difficult because — depending on what television station you turn on — you get educated differently,” Carson said. “What we did is we tried to stick to the facts and used a common source of information, which is the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and local health officials. The other thing we thought was really important is that our leadership team walked the talk” by getting vaccinated.
Ludington-based FloraCraft Corp. grappled with the same issue when vaccines started to roll out more broadly earlier this year, President and CEO Eric Erwin recently told MiBiz.
FloraCraft, which manufactures foam crafting products, partnered with the Mason County Health Department in late April to hold a small vaccine clinic, where it administered 50 doses to workers and their families. FloraCraft provided $50 incentives for each employee that received the shot.
FloraCraft plans on holding a similar event in the future, but details are not yet set.
“We firmly believe in the importance of everyone getting the vaccine in order to eradicate COVID-19 from our community — and beyond,” Erwin said in a statement to MiBiz. “Hosting this clinic for our employees and their families allows us to remove barriers for our team and signals our commitment to doing our part as we all attempt to return to normal.”