January 15, 2021 | Matt Kucinski

Calvin University has historically been a vaccine site and has been planning and gearing up to be a mass vaccination clinic.

This week, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Division of Immunization approved Calvin University Health Services as a COVID-19 vaccination site. Calvin is the first university campus clinic in west Michigan to receive this designation.

“We are grateful that the state of Michigan sees us as a trusted partner in keeping our community safe,” said Dr. Laura Champion, the university’s medical director.

Serving the community

While approved, the university now must wait to receive its allotment of vaccinations. Champion and her team in health services at Calvin University will then be able to administer vaccinations to eligible populations.

“When Calvin University won the college flu shot challenge consecutively for two or three years in a row, the state health department came out to present us with the award, and while they were here, they did a site visit,” said Champion. “They were impressed with the setup here at Calvin.

“We are very grateful to Calvin University Health Services for opening their facility to help expand vaccine distribution in our community. Any time we can expand distribution channels to get more vaccines in arms, that’s a good thing,” said Dr. Adam London, director of the Kent County Health Department. “But it’s important to remember, vaccines are still in very short supply. Currently, we do not have enough doses to reach everyone who is eligible. We ask the community to please be patient and understanding with those on the frontlines of the vaccination effort.”

Equipped to lead

Sarah Visser, vice president for student life and co-chair of the university’s COVID Response Team, says the institution is set up well to handle this task, both in physical space and experience.

“It is a huge perk for Calvin to have a medical space on campus to facilitate this effort, and a staff of medical professionals under the direction of a medical doctor equipped to carry out this work,” said Visser. “Our health services clinic has historically been a vaccine site, and we have been planning and gearing up to be a mass vaccination clinic. So, we are ready to hit the ground running.”

Representing small to mid-sized universities, Champion is part of the Vaccinate West Michigan Collaboration Task Force. They have been meeting weekly for several months to coordinate the vaccine dispensing plans. She said that west Michigan residents should go to Vaccinate West Michigan’s website to check on their eligibility to receive a vaccine at this time. They can also go to the registration page, click on one provider, complete a questionnaire and sign up to receive notification when they become eligible for the vaccine. As doses become available, eligible individuals will be contacted by that provider to make an appointment. Calvin will be listed there when it starts receiving the vaccine in regular intervals.

As it relates to the Calvin clinic, Champion says she’s excited that those faculty, staff, and students within the Calvin community who qualify to receive the vaccine at this time will soon have an option to receive their doses on campus. Like London, she urges patience. She encourages people to check the Health Services website for updates and asks that they do not tie up the phone lines calling for a vaccine appointment.

“We are grateful that we have been able to help coordinate with our local partners to have nearly 400 of our faculty, staff, and students vaccinated as part of the Tier 1A category,” said Visser. “And now as an approved vaccination site, we will be able to continue to serve our Calvin community, as well as the broader west Michigan community, as we move through Michigan’s phases for vaccine distribution.”

About Health Services

Calvin University's Health Services team continues to lead the way for safe and healthy campuses around the country. For nine years running, The Princeton Review ranks this team among the top 20 higher education health services in the nation. The team of health services professionals are led by a medical doctor who has 25-plus years of experience and connections in Grand Rapids, where Calvin University is located. The team, which has worked closely with local and state health officials, has been instrumental in the university’s planning and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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