GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s been four months since the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization to the first COVID-19 vaccine. Although some people still have hesitancies about getting vaccinated, hundreds of thousands in West Michigan now have protection against the virus.
For some people in the community, getting vaccinated was a no-brainer.
“I was not hesitant at all. As a matter of fact, I’m 60, so I wish I could have got my shot even sooner,” said Carl Miller, of Lowell.
For others, it was a different story.
“I was pretty set that I wasn’t going to get it actually and then my sister went and got her first dose about three weeks ago and that’s when I decided I’d do it,” said Allie Horne, of West Olive.
“I was hesitant just because it was pushed out so quickly. I felt a little better after my mother got it,” Rachael Hutchinson, of Holland, said.
When the vaccine was first approved, many questions surrounded its efficacy, how it was made and when it would be available to the public. Now, more people want to know about the process, possible side effects and when things could return to normal. Now that everyone 16 and older is eligible, many said the process of signing up and getting the vaccine was simple.
“It was actually super easy. I just went into my Walgreens app where I get my prescriptions filled and then there’s a tab on there where you can sign up for an appointment and I had an appointment within, I think, the next 12 hours,” said Horne.
Deb and Mark Friesner, of Lowell, got vaccinated through Meijer.
“Meijer pharmacy made it just super simple for us. From the time I walked in, till the time I was sitting down to wait my 10 minutes, it was a 5-minute process,” said Deb Friesner.
“I went to 28th Street Meijer and same thing. I walked in, walked into the pharmacy, walked right up. Somebody’s waiting for me. I was in and out three minutes,” her husband, Mark Friesner said.
At DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, Hutchinson said she was in and out in less than a half hour.
“It was so organized and streamlined. Everybody coming in, they split up and then they split you up again and you register on the computer and I was in and out of there in 23 minutes,” said Hutchinson.
Some locations have limited appointments, which can make it difficult to go back to the same place for your second shot. Miller said he got his first shot on March 17 at Spectrum in Greenville.
“I’ve called every two days since then to try to get back to Greenville, which is the closest spectrum locations to Lowell.”
He said it took nine calls to schedule his second, because they told him there weren’t any appointments open, but he was eventually able to get on the schedule.
As for the pain of the actual shot, most people said it felt like a pinch, and though side effects can vary from person to person. Many said they hardly experienced any symptoms at other than a sore arm and fatigue.
“I took a nap that day and I don’t normally take nap, but that was it. That was all there was, you know, and the process went really. I mean, it went very smoothly,” said Miller.
He also helped his aunt find an appointment and get vaccinated.
“I got to hug my aunt for the first time in a year. I feel like we’re, we’re on our way back to some normalcy,” he said.
If you’re still unsure about getting a shot or have questions about the vaccine, one thing that several people said helped them, was talking to someone they knew who got it, doing research of their own and speaking with their doctor.
“If you’re going to research, make sure you look up like non-biased, reputable sources,” said Veronica Dearborn, of Grand Rapids.
Even if you aren’t worried about yourself, many across West Michigan say they aren’t necessarily getting vaccinated for their own benefit, but to help others.
“The more we protect ourselves, the more we protect the people who can’t get it,” Horne explained.
“Do it for everybody that you care about and interact with because you may come out of it OK, but they may not,” said Hutchinson.
More information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found on the CDC’s website.
To find a vaccine appointment near you, click here.