Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Vaccination: Moving Forward Together

Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Graphic by Ciara Potter

How easy is it for students to get vaccinated? Is it safe? How much of a priority should vaccinations be? These are pressing questions many Southeast students and staff want to know the answers to, and this article will provide more clarity.

Southeast Missouri State University is hosting 13 COVID-19 vaccination clinics this fall. The clinics will be held every Wednesday from September to December in the University Center Program Lounge.

The university has also created an incentive program through which all students who have submitted proof of vaccination will automatically be entered to win one of 200 cash prizes. The program also states if Southeast meets the 70% vaccination rate goal by Nov. 1, students, faculty and staff will receive a five-day Thanksgiving holiday break, which is typically three days.

Is the vaccine safe?

As of Fall 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations have been widely available in Missouri since April 9, and as of Aug. 23, the Pfizer vaccine was officially FDA approved, which may put some anxious minds to rest. The CDC also has plenty of information available about the safety of getting vaccinated. Cybersecurity sophomore Georgi Slaveniev was vaccinated in his home country of Bulgaria this summer.

“I was a bit scared of the injection, but after that, I had no symptoms,” said Slaveniev.

At the same time, students are concerned about many unknowns with the vaccine. Senior Zykiah Williams, a social work major, discussed some of the worries still on peoples’ minds.

“This is still a new vaccine. Some people have had reactions to it, and some people just don’t want to get it,” she said. “I mean, I’m chilling because I got it, I feel safer, but that’s also my opinion.”

Vaccine Clinics at Southeast

Some students are also uncertain about the availability of vaccination clinics at Southeast. Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success Debbie Below made several points about getting vaccinated at the university.

“No. 1, getting the vaccine is easy: no appointment required, and generally not much of a wait. Two, getting the vaccine is accessible. No. 3, you can learn more about vaccine availability at SEMO by visiting semo.edu/covid,” Below said. “And the last thing is when you are vaccinated, let us know. Upload your card, so that you could be part of the process of moving all of us forward together and working towards our campus goal of a 70% vaccination rate.”

Vaccine providers are available to talk to students one-on-one at the university’s vaccination clinics to give them more information about getting vaccinate. Students can come to check out a clinic even if they’re just looking for more information.

“If you don’t want to get the vaccine while you're there that day, that is OK, and I have seen that,” Below said.

Although the university provides numerous resources regarding vaccination, several Southeast students echoed the sentiment that it is important to do your own additional research.

“I don’t really want to put that on SEMO, because they’re not a health facility. … You’re going to have to ask your doctor,” Williams said.

Is getting vaccinated necessary?

Students and faculty have different perspectives on the importance of getting vaccinated. Sophomore Environmental Science major Andrew Bolhofner is interested in learning more about getting vaccinated, and respects others’ choices about getting the vaccine.

“I feel like personally, it’s your health. Because at the end of the day, we’re all humans, we all have a choice to do what we think is right for ourselves and for other people around us,” he said.

Several other students also shared their opinion that getting vaccinated is a personal choice, and they would respect someone else’s informed decision, even if it differed from their own. There are potential negative consequences to this mindset, though, when not everyone is getting vaccinated.

“We have a number of employees who are impacted by their children not being able to go to school because of the high number of quarantine and isolation cases we’re seeing in the K-12 system,” Below said. “What we’re learning is that places like … Kansas City, which could have potentially become a hotspot, didn’t end up becoming one, but they do have a higher vaccination rate. Whereas areas of the state that have a lower vaccination rate are showing a higher number of cases.”

In other areas, especially other countries, vaccines are not as widely available.

“In my country, north of Bulgaria, they don’t have that [many] financial resources to buy a vaccine,” Slaveniev said.

Slaveniev was able to sign up to get vaccinated in Bulgaria fairly easily, but for many others in his situation, the process is significantly more difficult.

Moving Forward Together

Overall, students seem receptive toward getting vaccinated, especially because of the incentive program.

“I mean, we’re college students. Who doesn’t want money?” Williams said.

“Everyone in my family has [gotten the vaccine], and I just haven’t gotten around to it,” Bolhofner said. “So yeah, if they have more information and a place set up for it, I’d go get it, for sure.”

When it comes to vaccination, it is imperative everyone works together to be able to get life back to a new normal, Below said.

“We have moved forward together on things like chicken pox. It may be a little early to feel that for this, but that’s what we’re trying to progress towards,” Below said.

And, with all of the information about vaccination and the numerous free vaccination clinics provided by the university, this goal may become a reality.

For Southeast students, faculty and staff who were not vaccinated at one of the university’s upcoming vaccination clinics, uploading a vaccination record can be done from your phone. Students can go to semo.edu/covid, click “vaccination” and upload a picture of their card. Students can also show a picture of their card to someone working at any of the upcoming vaccination clinics or ask a clinic worker to look up their vaccination record if they can't find their card.

Additionally, if students are looking for more information about COVID or the vaccine, an emergency response team composed of faculty, staff and student government members has been responding to the pandemic since February 2020.

“We’re looking for additional student groups who have an interest in being a part of the process. … As student organizations or groups of students, anyone who wants to partner with the emergency response team can reach out to me. We’d love to talk to them more about the education around vaccination,” Below said.

For more information from professionals about getting vaccinated, vaccine facts and addressing misinformation, check out Vax Forward, a comprehensive website about vaccination.

For general COVID-19 and vaccination guidance, visit the CDC’s website.

For more information about the safety of the vaccine, check out the CDC’s vaccine safety page.

For more information about upcoming vaccine clinics, visit Southeast’s website or Southeast’s vaccination incentive page.

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