By Sean Chase
On Thursday, May 27, First Lady Jill Biden toured Grand Rapids Community College’s pop-up community vaccine clinic on the DeVos Campus.
Prior to her speech, Biden spoke with nine GRCC students, who had just received the first dose of the vaccine, in the recovery tent.
“You know, no matter where I go, I feel most at home when I’m visiting other community colleges,” Biden said. “Especially since my own classes at Northern Virginia Community College are finished. I think I posted my grades on May 1, so it’s nice to be back at a community college.”
In addition to the First Lady, Rep. Peter Meijer and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalyn Bliss also toured the clinic with GRCC President Bill Pink.
“I was contacted last week by the governor’s office, to say the White House, the First lady, has an initiative to get into communities and specifically get with community colleges across the country, to help promote more folks getting their vaccine in their arms,” Pink said to the media, when asked about how the partnership with GRCC and Rite-Aid happened. “The Governor’s office asked us if GRCC would be interested in being that Michigan partner. It’s GRCC, it’s what we do. We always want to step up and be a team player.”
With only a week to prepare many college’s would have struggled to safely and effectively set up a vaccine clinic, but Pink pointed out that GRCC is uniquely equipped to handle such events.
“The key to getting this kinda thing done, is to have people who are in this community and part of this community college that understand how these events happen,” Pink said. “We’ve had presidents on this campus, we had the governor here a couple years ago, we’ve had secretaries of education here. So, having had that experience as an institution, it’s helpful that we can get that up and running fast.”
During her speech, the First Lady urged the citizens of Grand Rapids to receive their vaccine as soon as possible for the safety of our community.
“I hope that everyone makes a plan to get a shot today, and to tell their friends and their family to get a shot as well,” Biden said. “We need to help make our communities safe for everyone, and finally when we all do this, we’ll be able to spend this summer the way we should, to spend it together.”
Pink’s message to the unvaccinated students at GRCC further supported Biden’s overall goal.
“If you look at the data, COVID-19, has sickened and killed many, many more people than any vaccine…,” Pink said to The Collegiate. “So just by nature of the data, it makes good sense for us to think, how can we help prevent some of these further sicknesses, further deaths, to get the vaccine so that it makes our lives, where we can get faster back to a social normal, and we need to get back to that as fast as we can. For us on campus it makes good sense, to be able to get that done so that our campus can enjoy that safety. I think that is awesome, if we can get in and get this done.”
About 30 people received their first shot today, and GRCC will be conducting another vaccine clinic to provide second doses.
One of the people who received their first dose of the vaccine today was GRCC student David Houck, 29, of Grand Rapids, citing multiple reasons for choosing to get vaccinated.
“Going to school and I’m going to be around a bunch of other people, and I don’t ever want to feel like I’m spreading anything because you never know,” Houck said.