Ending the pandemic
The vaccines will achieve their purpose – ending the pandemic – if we achieve widespread immunization.
Whether you are eager to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, or are waiting to learn more or even have doubts, Metro Health wants to provide answers to your questions.
Vaccine Distribution & Scheduling
Metro Health will follow state and federal guidelines for distribution of the vaccine.
Shipments of the Pfizer vaccine are underway. Metro Health is prepared to receive, safely store and begin distribution of the vaccine. The first doses will be administered to frontline health care workers to protect them as they care for patients. As vaccines become available, first to high-risk groups and then to increasingly larger populations, Metro Health stands ready to do its part to ensure everyone in our community is protected.
Access to the vaccine will reflect fair and equitable distribution to the entire population.
As vaccines become widely available in coming months, we will keep you informed with regular updates and resources. Enter your email address for updates to learn about the science, the safety and information about how and when you can receive the vaccine.
Questions & Answers
How Vaccines Work
Vaccines trigger our immune systems to make antibodies against bacteria or viruses. Antibodies are proteins that fight germs like viruses and bacteria by latching onto and disabling them. The goal is teach your body’s defenses how to create antibodies to fight off any future exposure to the real bacteria or virus.
The Pfizer vaccine is called a “messenger RNA” vaccines. It does not contain pieces or proteins from the virus. Instead, it contains instructions for your cells, called “messenger RNA.” This messenger RNA tells your cells to make a harmless piece of the COVID-19 spike protein themselves. Once your cells make the spike protein, your immune system will make the antibodies that fight COVID-19 and protect you from getting sick from this virus.
“The pandemic has presented all of us with a historic challenge. Science is providing COVID-19 vaccines as our best hope to defeat the pandemic.” – Peter Hahn, MD, MBA, President & CEO
The vaccine trials have included diverse participants, volunteers from every walk of life.
- The nearly 44,000 volunteers in the global Pfizer trial included 42 percent from non-white backgrounds.
- Independent scientists, doctors and federal regulators found the vaccine developed by Pfizer to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 — nearly double what we expect from the annual flu vaccine.
COVID vaccine trials need diverse test subjects, so a doctor rolled up his sleeve
Dr. Rakesh Pai understands the lifesaving power of vaccines as a physician, but also from a family perspective. When the opportunity came to volunteer to test one of the new COVID-19 vaccines, he did not hesitate. Read more
Safety/Efficacy of the Pfizer Vaccine
The first vaccine to protect Americans from COVID-19 was found to be safe and effective regardless of race, weight and age.
Vaccine development follows a rigorous process that begins with preclinical testing with animals to determine if the vaccine triggers an immune response.
- Phase 1 safety trials begin with small numbers of human volunteers to test safety and efficacy.
- Phase 2 expands the trials into larger groups, hundreds of people divided demographically, to see if their response varies and to further test safety and efficacy.
- Federal regulators from the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority designed large-scale studies to test the vaccines for safety and efficacy. The Food & Drug Administration developed guidelines that the vaccines will have to meet for Emergency Use Authorization.
- Phase 3 trials involve tens of thousands of volunteers, half of whom receive placebos. This is to test for side-effects, as well as efficacy. Neither the researchers nor the volunteers know who receives the vaccine and who receives a placebo.
- The United States is one of the few nations where regulators review the raw data collected during trials, rather than accepting the findings from vaccine manufacturers. This requires poring over all of documentation and re-analyzing the data from the trials.
Read the FDA’s letter of authorization for the Pfizer vaccine
Why We Need to be Immunized
Based on historic outbreaks of communicable diseases, scientists calculate that 70% of the population — more than 200 million people — will need to be immunized to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Metro Health is committed to helping West Michigan achieve that goal.
Population-wide immunity (also called ‘herd immunity’) means that enough people in a community are immune to a disease that the disease can’t spread easily among them. That helps protect people who are not immune—for example, those who can’t be vaccinated for some reason—from getting sick.
For More Information
Visit Vaccinate West Michigan, a collaborative effort by the Kent County Health Department and all west Michigan healthcare organizations.