GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mercy Health St. Mary’s is working to vaccinate as many people as possible, especially in under served communities in West Michigan.
Several health leaders from the healthcare group held a virtual press conference Wednesday, updating the community about vaccination rates and procedures in our area.
RELATED: WATCH: Mercy Health officials discuss COVID-19 vaccination progress
Each member stressed the importance of being patient as the system works quickly to get eligible people vaccinated.
“Vaccinating our patients in the community will take time,” said Mercy Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Matt Biersack, MD.
About two months since Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines were approved for emergency use, Dr. Biersack said that supply is still an issue.
“There is a significant demand for the vaccine, unfortunately at this time demand really outstretches supply.”
Dr. Andrew Jameson, MD, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Mercy Health said that they’ve administered 97% of their supply allocated by the federal government.
He said, “So far to date, we have received 22,640 Pfizer vaccines, so that is what we’ve actually received, and we are starting to distribute. Of those received, we have given out 21, 960 of those.
Dr. Jameson added that once they know how many doses they’ll be getting for the week on Friday’s, they’ll then get their shipment on Monday.
“Basically, whatever we get, goes into arms that week,” he said.
As we move through the recommended vaccine phases, Dr. Jameson noted that last-minute scheduling for high-risk populations has been difficult, so they’re pivoting to meet people where they already may be seeking care.
“For our clinical patients, which is in the 49503 zip code and serves a significant Latin X community, we’re going to be embedding a vaccinator in that clinic to try and meet people when they show up for appointments,” he said, “As they see their doctor, as they get into a situation and environment they trust, they can then schedule an appointment for a vaccine and it may be right at that time.”
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That is just one way, Dr. Karen Kennedy, MD, the Regional Medical Director for Mercy Health Physician Partners said they’ve been working to target under served communities, especially when it comes to education and vaccine reluctance.
Dr. Kennedy said, “It’s not always just about the amount of information out there, it’s who is telling these populations the information and whether or not these populations trust it.”
Mercy Health is hoping that most people choose to get vaccinated when their time comes and they’re offering plenty of access, from their large county-wide vaccination clinic at DeVos Place, to right in peoples doctors offices.
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Dr. Biersack said, “We want to offer lots of different opportunities, so folks can really feel comfortable with not only the vaccine itself, but the site of care and administration of it.”
Mercy Health said they have also received about 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine, but have not administered those just yet. They said they plan to use those doses in smaller, clinic settings due to the vaccines ability to be viable longer, and less extreme temperature requirements.
SEE MORE: CORONAVIRUS IN WEST MICHIGAN