Vaccination rates on campus climb

Vaccination rates on campus climb

As of yesterday, 558 members of the Goshen College community have reported receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. Four hundred and twenty eight of these people have received both doses. 

These numbers are likely lower than the actual number of students and employees who have been vaccinated, as individual reporting is the only way statistics on this subject can be gathered.

According to Kevin Miller, pandemic task force coordinator, Goshen College was able to vaccinate 196 and 76 people on Thursday and Friday of last week respectively, “including some friends and family from the community, not just GC people,” he said. “I don’t have the exact count of students/employees yet, but I estimate we added at least another 225 among the GC community who have now received at least their first dose. 

Goshen College was the first of 30 colleges in the Independent Colleges of Indiana to receive doses of the vaccine. 

“We worked hard to get those doses on campus last week because Thursday and Friday were three weeks from the end of the semester,” Miller said, “we wanted any students who might be leaving campus when the term ends to be able to receive both doses before leaving.”

Despite some initial computer issues on Thursday, the vaccine clinic ran smoothly, with nursing and public health students administering shots and doing registration, “along with supervision and hands-on help from faculty, including Brianne Brenneman, Jewel Yoder and Ruth Stoltzfus,” Miller said. 

Goshen College’s clinic served as a test run for the state of Indiana, as they figure out how to best distribute and administer vaccines to colleges and universities throughout the state. 

“I was on a call with support people from the state Friday afternoon to debrief and talk about some of the challenges of running the vaccine clinic using their computer management system,” Miller said. “They were grateful for the feedback, and for us being a test site as they roll out the vaccine to higher ed settings. We are also grateful to have partnered with Goshen Health on this.” 

As campus rates of vaccination increase, the pandemic task force is discussing how and when things will loosen up and slowly transition back to normal. 

“PTF is having ongoing conversations about what the vaccination threshold needs to be, and whether we also need to factor in the trending prevalence of new [COVID-19] infections in the region,” Miller said.

Most estimates state the vaccine threshold for herd immunity rests somewhere between 60 and 70 percent. 

For Goshen College to achieve a 70% level of herd immunity, approximately 629 out of 899 students and 214 out of 306 employees need to be fully vaccinated. Self-reported data indicates that employee rates are close to passing the threshold, with 221 employees having received at least one dose, but only 337 students have reported being vaccinated so far.

At this point, all three available vaccines in the United States have received only emergency – rather than full- FDA approval, but because Goshen College is a private institution, requiring a vaccine is still a possibility. 

 “We are paying attention to what other schools are doing, and note that Cornell and Rutgers have recently reported that they will be mandating vaccines for the fall,” Miller said. “If we do decide to require vaccines, we would allow for documented medical or religious exemptions. We have recently made the decision to require vaccines for SST travel, but other than that we have not yet made the decision about whether vaccines will be required or not.”

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Written by Greta Klassen, News Editor

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