GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tens of thousands of people received vaccines this week, but some of the vaccine recipients at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic are high schoolers.
That's because DeVos Place almost exclusively administers the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only one that has been approved for kids 16 and older.
“So I can play sports without having to get quarantined,” says Wyatt Putman. “If a lot of people end up getting the vaccine, it’ll be better for a lot of the teams to be able to come together.”
West Michigan high schoolers say they want their sports season--and their high school experience--back.
“We can play as full teams, instead of having a limited amount of players,” Putman adds.
The easiest way to achieve this is through a shot in the arm.
“My friend who’s on my team, she got hers at 10 here,” says high schooler Ella Baker.
Vaccinated people don't have to isolate after COVID-19 exposure, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Humans Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control. Isolation from exposure is why many teams like Ethan Kirkland's season ended suddenly this fall.
“That was something that was really hard," says Kirkland. "When we first were practicing, and then they told us, 'We’re done,'…that really hurt. I thought we wouldn’t have anything. Then it came back.”
Ethan is going on to play college football this Friday. It's his first step toward a normal first season.
“Getting vaccinated today was a good step forward for tomorrow and the future,” says Kirkland.
Even for non-student athletes, the chance to be back to high school is too good to miss.
“I think it’s really liberating that we can go back to playing sports and not have to worry about, 'Hey, when we play sports, we’re in contact with so many people, there’s a high chance we could get COVID-19,” says Alden Gort.
Kids from as far as Barry County and Pentwater showed up to the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic today, all saying they're happy they can make a difference. As summer approaches, they are hopeful sports won't stop and start again as many times as they did last year.