Spectrum doctor: Ready to line up for COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the COVID-19 vaccine days away from its expected arrival in West Michigan, doctors will likely roll up their sleeves to get the vaccine early next week. 

The Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was endorsed by a U.S. government advisory panel Thursday. It’s now up for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Spectrum Health is one of five allocated sites in Michigan that will receive the vaccine.

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Russell Lampen says he is happy to get in line, adding that if you want to take off your mask and get back to the things you enjoy, you should too.

“I certainly will be getting in line as soon as possible,” Lampen said.

Lampen has dedicated much of his life to studying infectious diseases and says Spectrum Health is ready to distribute the vaccine.

“The process should be simple,” he said. “We vaccinate all of our employees every year for influenza, so a mass vaccination campaign like this is something that we are familiar with.”

Officials say it’s much like the flu vaccine as there are no serious side effects.

“There is local tenderness or some discomfort at the site of the vaccination in your arm. There have been some reports of fatigue or muscle aches, low grade fevers,” Lampen said.

During the U.K. vaccine rollout this week, two healthcare workers with severe allergies experienced reactions to the vaccine. While that’s being studied, people who have severe allergies are being advised not to take the Pfizer vaccine right away.

According to trial data, the majority of people, 95%, had no serious side effects.

Lampen says he has zero concerns about getting the vaccine.

“I think the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh any concerns. I would far rather have a sore arm and feel a little achy for a day than to risk contracting COVID and also to risk spreading COVID in my community.”

Lampen says the name “operation warp speed” is deceiving because this vaccine, while speed up in production, went through the same safety protocols.

He says estimates are showing that 70% of the population getting vaccinated could develop herd immunity.

“When people realize that if we want to put kids back in school, if we want to return to work safely, if we want to start going to sporting events and concerts and restaurants that we are really going to have to drive down COVID rates — and that vaccination is the easiest and most effective way to do this, I think we will continue to see increased acceptance in the community,” Lampen said.

The Pfizer vaccine is not for kids or pregnant women.

Lampen wants to remind the public that even though a vaccine is on the way, at Spectrum, hospitalization rates remain high at about 80% occupancy. The average positivity rate there in the past seven days is 16.2%.

Lampen adds that once the vaccine is released and the virus is more controlled, the pandemic can come to an end much quicker.

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