By KATE SOVERO
All UMW student and faculty employees are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.
The University of Mary Washington has been working with Rappahannock Area Health District and Mary Washington Healthcare to make this a reality. Jeff McClurken, co-coordinator on the COVID task force, expressed his gratitude for the partnering organizations.
“We’ve been grateful to work with our local partners. They have helped us work through the complex set of regulations and requirements you can see in the links above,” said McClurken.
Prior to registration, a survey was sent out to UMW faculty and student employees to gauge the number of vaccinations that would be needed.
“It was created to be able to gather together the information the local health district (RAHD) needed in order to bring our employees into the vaccination process,” said McClurken
The University is following the state of Virginia’s vaccine distribution plans. UMW employees who work in healthcare were offered the first round of the vaccine.
“Other employees became eligible when the local health district entered phase 1b distribution with another range of what the state had identified as Frontline Essential Workers. As of last week, the district entered phase 1c, with other essential workers. All UMW employees became eligible for the vaccine under phase 1c,” said McClurken
While early on there was a shortage in the supply of the vaccine in the Fredericksburg area, UMW employees that wished to receive the vaccine have all been granted the opportunity.
“Once eligible and registered with our contacts at RAHD, our employees have been contacted to set up an appointment within a week or two,” said McClurken
Brandon Williams, a senior economics major and a UMW student employee, was able to get the vaccine through the school. He said that registering and receiving the vaccine was a very simple process.
“Once I completed the form stating I was interested in receiving the vaccine, I waited about 3 days until Mary Washington Healthcare (MWHC) contacted me. In the email, it has asked me to book an appointment. I was able to receive the shot the same day as the email,” said Williams “Overall, I was genuinely surprised by how quickly the process happened. Also, I found that registering for the vaccine was rather simple and user-friendly. When receiving the vaccine, the nurses and employees made the process very easy. They were very helpful and considerate.”
Phase 1b also included people with certain risk factors, including age and medical conditions.
Many employees registered on their own in the local health districts where they reside and through the state-wide system for pre-registration.
“With these cases, we wouldn’t know if they had received the vaccine or not, but, from what we hear, many of our employees have been able to get vaccinated on their own through those channels,” said McClurken
Justin Mittereder, a UMW student employee and junior majoring in computer science, said “I had already registered to get the vaccine on my own prior to the announcement that the school made.”
The faculty and student employees that were unable to get the vaccination on their own used this opportunity to receive the vaccination.
“I decided basically because I feel like I have to. I was going to wait to get it when I went back home, but it will also be easier to get it here in the USA via the school,” said Badlee Nicholls, a senior international student from South Africa majoring in marketing.
At the state level, there is a large amount of interest in making vaccines widely available for college students, perhaps even before they head home.
“We have provided information to the Virginia Department of Health about the number of students at UMW in case the state decides to include students more broadly in the next few weeks,” said McClurken
Regardless of that decision, the state has announced that on April 18, everyone 16 and older in the state will be eligible for the vaccine and the state will start inviting members of the general public off of the pre-registration list at vaccinate.virginia.gov.