KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Western Michigan University held its first on-campus COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Wednesday, in an effort to better reach the college population.
Health officials say they will vaccinate 1,300 students, faculty, and staff with their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine over a two day period at the Student Recreation Center.
The clinic was originally planning to administer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine but switched vaccines Tuesday after the FDA announced a pause.
Dr. Gayle Ruggiero, the medical director of the Sindecuse Health Center, says making the vaccine available on campus is a crucial step in the university’s pandemic response.
“College students have mild symptoms, so sometimes they’re not aware that they’ve been infected with the virus. They may spread it inadvertently to their peers, to their family members. They’re a transient population so they may travel,” Ruggiero said.
She says even with COVID-19 safety protocols, vaccines are needed to help keep spread under control.
“They live in residence halls, they live in sorority or fraternity houses, they live in apartments with multiple peers in their population and that’s why spread can be very quick,” Ruggiero said.
WMU student Shelby Belanger says the clinic on campus was the first opportunity she could find to get a vaccine.
“I really couldn’t find anything for a while. Meijer was booked, Rite Aid, everywhere. I’ve had friends that have had to go to Indiana to get theirs,” Belanger said.
Senior Rob Murphy says the J&J pause and switch to Pfizer is not giving he friends any hesitations about getting vaccinated.
“We are all getting it as soon as we can,” Murphy said. “We think it’s gonna be our quickest way of getting back to normal.”
Student Emma Wiest was relieved to be able to receive her first vaccine dose, knowing the devastation the virus has caused in the area.
“One of my close friends just got diagnosed with COVID, and it’s been pretty close to me a couple of times but I’ve thankfully never had it, so this is just that kind of a final exhale breathing that sigh of relief,” Weist says.
The university will administer the second dose of the vaccine with another clinic in three weeks.