Harper Woods Fire Capt. Kevan Kochan administers a COVID-19 vaccination to Harper Woods City Councilwoman Veronica Paiz.

Harper Woods Fire Capt. Kevan Kochan administers a COVID-19 vaccination to Harper Woods City Councilwoman Veronica Paiz.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Harper Woods hosts COVID-19 vaccination event

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published April 15, 2021

 Harper Woods resident Melanie Berger took her father-in-law, Carl Berger, to a vaccination event at the Wayne County Community College campus in Harper Woods March 25. Their vaccines were administered by fire Lt. Rod Hill and Capt. David Mehl.

Harper Woods resident Melanie Berger took her father-in-law, Carl Berger, to a vaccination event at the Wayne County Community College campus in Harper Woods March 25. Their vaccines were administered by fire Lt. Rod Hill and Capt. David Mehl.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

 Harper Woods resident Carl Berger gets his second COVID-19 vaccination shot administered by Harper Woods fire Capt. David Mehl March 25.

Harper Woods resident Carl Berger gets his second COVID-19 vaccination shot administered by Harper Woods fire Capt. David Mehl March 25.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

HARPER WOODS — Communities around the nation and around the world are organizing ways for local residents to receive their vaccinations for COVID-19.

Harper Woods hosted its own vaccination events, giving out the first of two Pfizer-produced shots on March 4 and the second on March 25, at the Wayne County Community College District Mary Ellen Stempfle University Center. It was used as a point of distribution by the county health department thanks to efforts by local officials.

“We set it up through the Wayne County offices. I noticed that all of the surrounding communities were getting ready to do vaccination events and our community wasn’t really involved,” said Harper Woods Mayor Valerie Kindle. “So I started making calls to Wayne County. Thankfully, our City Hall staff and volunteers were able to pull this together on short notice, since we didn’t get seven days’ notice or anything.”

The shots were administered by Harper Woods firefighters since they are licensed EMTs. Kindle said she couldn’t speak highly enough of their work making sure the vaccines were given out efficiently and properly.

“Our fire department is administering the shots. They volunteered their time to do this, and I appreciate them taking the time out of their schedules to do this,” she said. “They were still on call even as they (were) doing this. Our fire captain, Kevan (Kochan), had people who he gave the shot to the first time asking him to give them their second shot because he was so gentle.”

The process in administering the vaccines was fairly simple, said fire Lt. Rod Hill.

“They come in, sometimes they can be in and out in a half-hour,” Hill explained. “They have to bring ID in, and if they are receiving a second vaccine dose, they need the card they got after the first dose. That’s about it.”

However, the process to ensure there was a local event in Harper Woods required weeks of effort and coordination between several organizations and government entities.

“Homeland Security had to check out the site. Wayne County Community College staff had to come and set up the building,” said Kindle. “We had so very little time, but we got almost 40 volunteers to come to help, and it has been smooth sailing. … It’s been a great collaboration between people to make this happen and happen quickly so our people don’t have to travel far away to get the shots.”

Being able to move quickly is not always government’s strong suit, but many dedicated civil employees have been putting in the extra effort to try to move the vaccination process along as swiftly as possible, particularly since Michigan remains one of the hardest hit locations in the country for COVID-19 cases.

“Wayne County is doing a good job getting things organized, and that’s through the Wayne County Health Department,” said Hill. “We were lucky enough to have access to this facility.”

Many of those in attendance said they were pleased with the efficiency of the event.

“We drove up, we signed up, we didn’t even have to get out of our car,” said Melanie Berger, who got her shot along with her father-in-law, Carl Berger, March 25.

Kindle was pleased they were able to bring everything together to ensure things ran as smoothly and unobtrusively as they could.

“I wanted to do some kind of special recognition for the firefighters; they’re doing a great job,” she said. “The EMTs are even giving people shots in their car, especially older residents so they don’t have to come inside the building and expose themselves or overexert themselves if they have mobility issues. They usually come with a caregiver in those cases, and we made sure the caregivers were getting shots as well.”

Harper Woods officials are seeing if they will be able to hold a similar event again in the near future; however, with the demand for vaccinations still high, it is unknown if there will be another event. Those looking for vaccine sites can find more information at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.

“I just want to encourage people to get their shots,” Kindle remarked. “However it is offered to you, please get it done so people can hug and be around their grandchildren and visit friends again.”