Timeline for GVSU vaccine clinic unknown, university to follow state, local guidelines

Needles with droplets coming off of them.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

The leaders of Grand Valley's Virus Action Team (VAT) said they have no firm timeline on a GVSU-based COVID-19 vaccine clinic, but urged faculty, staff and students to register for a vaccine with their health care provider, local health department, or through other providers.

The update came during a public webinar hosted by VAT on February 23. 

Local public health officials also spoke, and highlighted the relationship the university has had with health officials, saying the partnership will eventually help students and employees get vaccines once they become available according to state guidelines. 

Ed Aboufadel, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and member of VAT, said that about 1,400 people in the university community have either received one or both doses of the vaccine so far. 

Marcia Mansaray, deputy health officer at the Ottawa County Department of Public Health said those who currently qualify for the vaccine should seek it through any avenue available to them, and encouraged those who aren't yet able to get it to be patient and stay the course with wearing masks and social distancing.

University officials said they do not anticipate requiring a vaccine for students, faculty and staff, but said decisions will be guided by health experts.

"Getting a vaccination is a good thing, and each vaccination gets us closer to the kind of community we're used to having at the university," Aboufadel said. "We have not required vaccines in the past, but our decisions will be guided by information from local and state health officials."

The university is also planning for face-to-face instruction for Fall 2021 but will be ready to pivot if necessary. The goal is for an atmosphere that is more similar to pre-COVID operations with approximately three-quarters of classes held in person and the other quarter online or hybrid, while the "pivot" would resemble operations from Fall 2020, with most classes online and face-to-face learning limited to certain class types. 

Once the vaccine becomes available, the university is planning to offer a vaccination clinic, which would be a first-come, first-served scenario, said Greg Sanial, vice president for Finance and Administration and director of VAT.  

Health officials reminded the community that the vaccine is largely effective, with few side effects, and should be available for free to anyone. Some sites may charge an administrative fee, but that should be covered by insurance, or absorbed if no insurance is available. Information on where to register to get a vaccine is available at www.vaccinatewestmi.com

Sanial said the university community has done well to contain COVID spread on campus, but reminded the community that "we're not out of the woods yet."

"We are close, though," Sanial said. "The vaccine is the next big step, and we're doing everything we can to get it to the community as fast as we can. Please don't let down your guard. Continue to distance, and we will be in touch and community information about a clinic as soon as we have a plan."

Dr. Habiba Hassouna, an infectious disease physician at Spectrum Health, spoke about the effectiveness of the vaccines against the virus and new variants of COVID-19. 

For more information, watch the meeting here.

Panelists included:

  • Greg Sanial, vice president for Finance and Administration and director of the Virus Action Team
  • Ed Aboufadel, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and member of the Virus Action Team
  • Adam Tate, facilities manager in Housing & Residence Life
  • Kate Harmon, director of Recreation & Student Wellness Initiatives and member of the Virus Action Team
  • Tina Barnikow, senior director for Health in the Office of the Vice Provost for Health and member of the Virus Action Team
  • Marcia Mansaray, deputy health officer at the Ottawa County Department of Public Health
  • Dr. Habiba Hassouna, infectious disease physician at Spectrum Health and advisor to the Virus Action Team