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VSU finally receives COVID vaccine

VSU received doses of the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday, March 9.

VSU President, Dr. Richard Carvajal said, “They are Moderna doses, they came from the Department of Public Health and we believe it is enough to work with our 1A group.”

1A group are those who are 65 and older or have health conditions, etc. Appointments are now being set up.

“We are hopeful that very soon the governor is going to open up what we anticipate to be a group that would include all of our faculty and staff,” Carvajal said.

VSU was hoping to receive the COVID-19 vaccines as soon as Feb. 8. Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said VSU is authorized to distribute the vaccine and the order is in place.

“The way the process works is they will let us know somewhere between Friday and Sunday whether we will have a shipment the following week,” he said.

Dr. Smith said there could potentially be a truck back up that is delaying the receiving of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Dr. Smith, VSU is able to receive any of the vaccines, but has not ordered the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine that was announced on Feb. 27.

On Feb. 18, Gov. Kemp announced five more mass vaccination sites in Georgia, one being in Valdosta. He said the sites were being set up to further the expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.

On Feb. 25, Gov. Kemp expanded the eligibility to public and private educators and staff. However, this does not include higher education, but Pre-K and K-12.

“From our perspective, college and university employees are dealing with an older population,” Gov. Kemp said in response to a reporter on Feb. 25. “They have a lot of different options per the University System for the way they handle their classes, social distancing. With early care learning, if a parent doesn’t have a place to drop their child, they can’t go to work. And that does not allow them to protect their livelihood, care for their family and that’s why we included these early care teachers and staff.”

This adds approximately one million more Georgians to the current 1A-plus population of roughly two million Georgians. This expansion is set to begin on March 8.

“We were hoping that would include higher education, faculty and staff, but it did not,” Dr. Smith. “He [Gov. Kemp] specifically left higher education out.”

On March 2, President Joe Biden announced the expectation for the COVID-19 vaccine to be available to all adults by the end of May.

After the vaccine becomes available for everyone, VSU will continue following Center for Disease Control recommendations. VSU is currently planning fall 2021 similar to this semester where many courses are hyflex.

According to Dr. Smith, if VSU gets the go ahead from the CDC and university system, classes would then be moved to normal spaces and there would be a normal fall semester. .

“I’m hopeful we will be able to do that, but we can’t without CDC guidelines changing and the USG saying, but there is reason now to hope that could happen,” he said.

Dr. Smith said VSU is prepared to do everything they can to help the community get vaccinated and get back to a normal setting as quickly as possible.

“We have to get back to some sort of normalcy at some point,” he said. “Will that come in August, or October or January? You need a crystal ball to figure that out.”

Because things can change quickly in terms of the pandemic, students should stay tuned for any updates or changes.

Written by Jonnie Brewer, Assistant Copy editor. Graphic courtesy of Bethany Davis, special to the Spectator.

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