Kelsey Zoodsma, RN, treats each patient like family when she gives COVID-19 vaccinations.
On Thursday, she brought that same compassionate approach to an actual member of her family—her 80-year-old grandmother, Peggy Alexander.
Zoodsma greeted her grandmother with smiling eyes as she sat down at her station at the Spectrum Health COVID-19 vaccine clinic.
“I picked a really good one for you,” Zoodsma said, as she held up a syringe.
With swift, well-practiced motions, she delivered the injection into Alexander’s upper arm.
“Piece of cake, piece of cake,” Alexander said.
She squeezed her granddaughter’s hand, tears in her eyes.
“Who would have thought when you were in your mother’s womb that you would be the person who would one day give me the shot that might save my life?” she said.
For Zoodmsa, it was an honor to be the one to deliver the injection.
“You have so much to live for, so many goals and dreams,” she told her grandmother. “You need this vaccine.”
Alexander, a retired teacher, hopes the vaccine will reduce her risk of getting COVID-19.
She wants to remain healthy to continue enjoying an active life. She walks 5 miles a day. She goes fly-fishing every summer in Montana.
“I love being outside. I love walking through the woods,” she said.
Peace of mind
Throughout the pandemic, Alexander has taken precautions to avoid the virus—to protect herself and others. She has rarely seen her extended family, which includes two sons, four grandchildren—including Zoodsma—and three great grandchildren.
Even with the vaccine, she still plans to be careful, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I will still follow the same protocols as I do now. No large groups. I will still wear a mask,” she said.
But the vaccine brings her peace of mind.
“It will help me sleep at night, I tell you,” she said. “I know deep down inside somewhere, I worry about (COVID-19) all the time. Being 80, I know I am more susceptible.”
It was a coincidence that Alexander’s vaccine was scheduled on a day when Zoodsma would be working in the clinic.
Zoodsma, a nurse for 10 years, usually works at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
During the pandemic, she also has worked at Spectrum Health Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals and cared for patients with COVID-19.
When the opportunity arose to work in the vaccination clinic, she eagerly said, “Yes.”
“I have seen people on ventilators in the ICU for weeks on end,” she said. “To be on the preventive side is really refreshing.”
Zoodsma worked her first 12-hour shift in the Grand Rapids clinic on Tuesday. She estimates she vaccinated about 250 people.
When her dad, Brad Lampe, mentioned her grandmother was scheduled to receive her vaccine Thursday, Zoodsma asked her manager if she could give the shot.
“I trust the vaccine, and I believe in it,” Zoodsma said. “I am very excited that she can get it.”
After the injection, the two shared a warm hug—their first since the pandemic began.
“I am very blessed. I can’t believe it,” Alexander said. “I’m going to sleep better tonight.”
‘It is an honor’
Giving the vaccine to patients makes for a busy but rewarding day, Alexander said.
“Everyone is so nice and so thankful,” she said.
Patients tell her of their lives during the pandemic. Some miss their grandchildren. Some are unable to visit their parents in a nursing home.
They welcome the vaccine as a sign of hope in the battle against the virus.
“A lot of people were getting the vaccine to protect their loved ones,” she said. “They were all so happy and so excited be there. Some were leaving in tears—happy tears.”
Some patients recall receiving the first polio vaccines as children and remind Zoodsma she is witnessing history.
She takes pride in her role in providing COVID-19 vaccines.
“It is an honor,” she said. “It is exciting to be a part of something really big.”
She was lucky to have received the vaccine – we have waited weeks on the health depts. list – ages 75 and 79 . I tried to access the Spectrum Now app that I told to do so by an earlier email. Then trying to enter the 6 digit security number, not fast enough – locked out. Called tech support, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday . Finally on Thursday – got some help – to use the old app. We have given up. BTW- I have used My Health app since 2015 and my PCP is Spectrum .
We’re glad you were able to receive your vaccination, Delaney. Your feedback is most helpful. For those who you require special assistance or have difficulty with our current process, we are working on making other scheduling options available soon. We will be posting frequent updates at https://spectrumhealth.org/vaccine. Thank you for your patience as we work through this together.
Be nice to get the vaccine. I have filled out dozens of guestionairs and told I would receive an email when available! Worked for Spectrum for 60 years! I am 83 and still no vaccine available when I fill out the questionnaire. Unbelievable! MargeRN
Hi Marge, Thank you for your nursing service. I’m sorry to hear of your frustration with the process. Unfortunately, we have limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine and may only schedule appointments as we receive shipments. If you have registered for the vaccine, you will be contacted when we are able to schedule your appointment. Thank you for your patience as we work through this together. I might also suggest signing up for vaccinations at your local pharmacy – I know Meijer is offering them. If they get doses in at the pharmacies, they may be able to offer you your vaccination dose earlier. Best wishes to you.