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COVID-19 vaccine is on its way...what does that mean for Kent County?

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With a potential COVID-19 vaccine on its way, Kent County Health leaders announced Tuesday that frontline health care workers would be first to receive it, while shedding light on when the general public can expect supplies to become available. The comments came during a virtual town hall Tuesday hosted by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce as the FDA on Thursday is set to review Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine data and potentially give the ok to begin distributing it nationwide.

And in Kent County, due to supply and demand, the vaccine will be rolled out in phases, beginning with health care workers who are treating those suffering from the coronavirus.

Dr. Adam London is the Administrative Officer for the Kent County Health Department, he was asked Tuesday if the elderly and most vulnerable populations should get the vaccine first.

“It’s kind of like the philosophy when you board an airplane and they tell you if the cabin depressurizes, put your mask on before putting on the mask of the child next to you,” London said. “That is where we are at with the philosophy behind the first wave of this, is that we need our care workers to be protected first, and then start providing it for others.” 

Next, London said it will be the elderly and most vulnerable, as well as essential workers--like nursing home employees and teachers--and for the general public, it might be March or April until supplies become available.

Keith Hustak is the Vice President of Advanced Practice Provider Services and Operations for Spectrum Health; he says, that means, keep your guard up until then.

“You know the thing I want to preach here is patience, because we have this vaccine, and everyone is excited about it, and we are excited about it," Hustak said. But it is all the same things that we have been talking about since March, the masking, the social distancing and washing hands. We still have to continue to do those things."

"So my emphasis to all of you is to not let those things go because the vaccine is here. We still have to really be due-diligent, now more than ever, because it’s almost here; so let’s keep those things up.” 

If the FDA approves the Pfizer either vaccine, a separate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee will meet within days to make recommendations about who should receive them, which would be the final step before mass distribution.

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