By Samantha Hilyer
As the semester winds down, the Saint Vincent vaccine clinic continues to administer doses of the vaccine to students and other members of the Saint Vincent community. Around 350 students attended the first Pfizer clinic offered to students where they received their first dose. Dr. John Smetanka, vice president of Academic Affairs and academic dean, reported that an approximate additional 150 students have also been vaccinated at different locations or at different times. Smetanka said around 50% of the student population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
But 50% is less than the amount of the Saint Vincent population that must be fully vaccinated in order for COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted safely.
“If we can get 80% of campus vaccinated, according to several studies, the chances of an outbreak amongst the Saint Vincent community will be low,” Smetanka said.
But Smetanka also said that he thinks the vaccination situation is a “race against time.”
“Viruses evolve rapidly,” Smetanka said, “and the quicker that we can stop it from spreading, will slow down the chances of the virus developing a variant that makes it even more contagious.”
While Smetanka is hopeful a majority of students will receive full vaccinations before the next semester, he reiterated that students’ decisions not to receive the vaccination must also be respected.
“The choice to get the vaccine should be voluntary,” Smetanka said. “It has to be a choice from your heart and your mind.”
Smetanka reported that some students waited beyond the student clinic to receive the vaccine as they were concerned about receiving the second dose of the vaccine right before finals week on May 12. The following clinics, which were not student focused, offered the second dose on May 20, the last day of finals week.
For students who are concerned about feeling the side effects of the second dose of the vaccine during finals week, accommodations, as with any illness, will be made. But Smetanka said that according to previous experiences of faculty and staff who have been fully vaccinated, he does not expect there to be too many students who experience the flu-like side effects that can be caused by the vaccine.
However, some students who go home before they can receive the second dose on campus still have the ability to receive their second dose at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently updated their guidelines to accommodate students who receive their first dose on campus and are required to travel a long distance to home. Hometown providers are being advised to administer the second dose to those who received their first dose elsewhere.