On April 1, the State of Connecticut expanded their eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to include individuals 16 years of age and older.
With this decision, a majority of the Fairfield University student population is now able to receive the vaccine.
“We are encouraging all students to take advantage of this opportunity in Connecticut. The CDC, State Department of Health and other medical experts believe the best way to protect our community is to get vaccinated,” said Vice President for Student Life, Karen Donoghue.
She continued by stating that Fairfield is trying to make this process as easy as possible for students. They’re doing so by offering travel vouchers for those who need transportation and raffling off prizes for those who are able to receive the vaccine before the semester closes.
To further help in this process, Fairfield University is attempting to bring a vaccine clinic right to campus.
In an email sent out by the Office of the President on March 31, President Mark Nemec Ph.D. stated that “We have recently learned that Governor Lamont has announced that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be made available to the campuses of the state’s universities by early May, so we anticipate that our students will be able to receive this vaccine on campus at this time.”
Julia Duffy, Director of the Student Health Center, said that the goal is to bring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on campus.
“The timing of the clinic is dependent on Fairfield University receiving a vaccine allocation from the State of Connecticut. Our understanding is the allocation will be granted in early May,” Duffy said.
There have been discussions circulating on whether or not Fairfield will mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, especially after President Nemec announced in his March 31 email that “we are preparing for a full schedule of in-person undergraduate classes when the fall semester begins, and that we will resume to the degree possible the in-person on campus events that accompany student life.”
Donoghue stated that “Decisions regarding vaccine mandates have not been made. However, 75 percent of students surveyed last month indicated a willingness to get vaccinated and over 475 students have already been vaccinated!”
The survey Donoghue is referencing was released to students on March 22 by the Office of Institutional Research.
Jennifer Anderson, Vice President of Marketing & Communication, released a summary of the results to The Mirror.
She stated that the overall response rate of the survey was 47.6 percent, with a total of 2,571 students responding. 81 percent responded that they have either received at least one dose of the vaccine or that they would want to receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
15 percent of the students said their willingness to receive the vaccine would be dependent on the brand/type they would receive, while four percent of students indicated that they would not receive the vaccine.
Junior Shamrock Barrera, would’ve been part of that 15 percent of students whose willingness to participate was dependent on the brand of vaccine.
“I was unaware that Fairfield had any plans to offer on-campus vaccinations,” He said. “But, I personally wanted to get the Pfizer or Moderna Vaccine, so hearing rumors that Fairfield is only offering Johnson & Johnson would’ve pushed me into looking off-campus anyway.”
Junior Luka Zedginidze disagreed and said he’d receive the vaccine on campus even if it was the Johnson & Johnson vaccination.
“I think if Fairfield wants to go in person next year they have to offer vaccinations,” Zedginidze said.
He went on to say that he’d “Feel much safer and would definitely be the first in line to get vaccinated.”
Yet, this clinic could be affected by Connecticut’s recent decision to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine due to the fact that, “Of 6.8 million individuals who have received the J&J vaccine nationally, six individuals have developed a rare and severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) within two weeks of receiving their vaccine” as stated on the state of Connecticut’s website.
The Mirror attempted to reach out to the university regarding how this decision would affect the timing of the clinic and did not receive a comment in time for publication.
Those who were actually the first in line to get vaccinated were those in Fairfield’s Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies.
Meredith Kazer, Dean of the Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies stated that “All Egan undergraduate and graduate nursing students who are engaged in clinical experiences were offered the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccinations early in 2021.”
She goes further to state that their records indicate that approximately 90 percent have been fully vaccinated to date.
“Clinical sites have not yet mandated nursing student COVID-19 vaccination to attend clinical. These decisions may be underscored by the emergency use authorization and current lack of universally available vaccinations for all age and population groups” she said.
Kazer went on to say that due to the fact that nursing students are required to provide proof of a number of other vaccinations in order to attend clinical, “It appears highly likely that clinical sites will require COVID-19 vaccination in the future” and that, “In light of the high morbidity and mortality rates of the virus, we remain highly concerned for the health and safety of unvaccinated nursing students who may become infected with COVID-19.”
For students worried about receiving the vaccine, she states that they have repeatedly been shown to be safe and effective, “In clinical trials and subsequent mass vaccine roll-out in people across ages, races and ethnicities, no serious safety concerns were reported.”
“Vaccinated students will be significantly less likely to become seriously ill or be hospitalized,” Duffy said, continuing that, “Vaccination helps to break the chain of disease transmission and will protect others as well as the vaccinated individual.”
Duffy states that those vaccinated will help avoid the disruption associated with exposure-related quarantine and that it will, “decrease the chance that the college experience will be negatively affected by illness and isolation/quarantine protocols.”
Duffy ends by saying that she believes that the “COVID-19 vaccination is the path forward out of the pandemic.”