Public health experts push for fall semester vaccinations | VTx


The deadline is approaching

Virginia Tech students have until August 6 to upload a copy of their immunization card to the online student health portal. For the sake of transparency, university officials have launched a dashboard that is updated twice a week and details the population of employees and students who have reported their immunization status.

These same officials strongly encouraged employees to get vaccinated, but stopped before a warrant for them. A survey in April found that 90 percent of university employees who responded had already been vaccinated or in the process of being vaccinated. However, unvaccinated employees will need to periodically undergo COVID-19 testing and wear a mask at work.

As of July 12, 37% of Virginia Tech students had reported being vaccinated, or about 11,000 students. That number rose to 58 percent on the employee side. Employees must report their immunization status by August 15.

University officials continue to monitor the numbers closely as the information helps them with their plans.

“We urge all those who have been vaccinated and have not submitted their registration to do so,” Mulhare said. “This is an important tool for us in regards to any mitigation strategies we might need in the fall semester… It impacts our planning of what we can do in the fall. “

Virginia Tech students and faculty can get vaccinated on campus Thursday at the North End Center on Turner Street and next Tuesday at the same location. For other vaccination dates and locations in the New River Valley, please visit this page.

“We will continue doing this as long as there is a need,” Mulhare said of the clinics on campus.

Consequences for students who refuse to comply with the mandate

Students not only receive constant reminders about the approaching August 6 deadline, but also about the consequences of not meeting the vaccination mandate. If students refuse to comply with the mandate by August 6, they will not be allowed to register for the fall semester. They will also not be allowed to move into a university residence on campus.

“The consequences are significant,” Shushok said. “It is important for students to know that if they do not upload their immunization verification by August 6, then we will begin the process of unsubscribing from their fall classes. They will be withdrawn from their classes. So this is as important as it gets.

“Another important thing is for our students who live in university residences. You will not be able to move into a university residence if you have not downloaded your vaccination record. Of course, it’s earlier than the start of classes. It is extremely important that people go ahead and upload their immunization check, so that we can clarify these things to make sure people are ready to go for the fall semester.

Concerns about the delta variant

The delta variant, a mutation of the COVID-19 virus, continues to be of concern to public health officials and has become the dominant strain in the United States. This spin-off attacks lung cells faster and spreads faster within a population. Scientists are following the data and believe the variant leads to more hospitalizations and deaths.

However, several studies have found that vaccines reduce the risk against this strain. This is another reason why officials at Virginia Tech have implemented the vaccination mandate and continue to encourage vaccinations.

“Over time, we have learned that whatever vaccines hold up very well in terms of demonstrating efficacy against the variants, including the delta variant,” Learman said. “So that’s kind of good news.

“Unfortunately, the delta variant is more contagious… and therefore, for those who are not vaccinated, it spreads faster. In communities with low vaccination rates, more people at risk will not be immune to the variant, so it will spread faster and lead to a disproportionate burden of hospitalizations and death among unvaccinated people.

“Southwest Virginia has the most variants compared to other areas of the state,” O’Dell said. “So we have concerns because our vaccination rates in Southwest Virginia are lower than in Northern Virginia… People need to understand what the consequences of the delta variant are in our community because all that the virus wants to do is replicate – and it will find the unvaccinated to do that. “

Dealing with misinformation

Many people who choose not to get the vaccine cite the lack of full approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration as the reason. The FDA approved the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines using emergency use authorization, determining that the benefits outweighed the risks.

Additionally, many believe vaccine production has been rushed, and others cite potential health risks. But most of these myths are lies, according to public health experts.

The method of creating the vaccine began years ago, so companies were able to quickly switch to the COVID-19 vaccine at the start of the pandemic. The companies also performed some of the vaccine production steps on an overlapping schedule in order to collect data more quickly. Social media helped researchers find qualified volunteers, and the speed at which COVID-19 spread allowed researchers to quickly see if their respective vaccines were working.

When it comes to the often-cited health issues, there is no evidence that the vaccine causes pregnancy problems, according to public health experts. There is also no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of the vaccine. Vaccines also do not alter DNA, as the vaccine never enters cells, which store DNA.

“I would say that when it comes to resistant individuals, if they feel comfortable sharing the source of their resistance with someone who they think is really trying to be there for them without another goal, they’re more likely to ask the questions they really want to ask, ”Learman said. “We can answer them or put them in touch with those who can answer them, and then have someone immunize them if they are interested in doing so.

“Shifting from these larger initiatives to these individual initiatives will probably be what we need to do to get there. “

Take advantage of the advantages

University officials continue to emphasize the benefits of vaccinations in addition to the health benefits of being protected. They plan to open the dining halls to capacity, allow for study abroad (keeping a close eye on conditions in some countries) and host events on campus, including sporting events.

Virginia Tech opens its football season on September 3 against North Carolina at Lane Stadium.

“Which I hope as we come back to campus and learn in person and gather around dining tables and around people’s apartments, that the learning resumes and friendships and relationships begin to grow.” build yourself, “Shushok said.” I think that’s why Virginia Tech’s experience is known, Virginia Tech’s hands-on education looks like.

“We know how experiential relational learning is. So when we say we want a normal fall, we want to go back to those kinds of experiences that speed up our learning. They give us life, fullness and richness. These are things we love about a Virginia Tech education. We are really close to being able to do that. So that’s what we’re hoping for this fall: a return to that kind of powerful education that we all love, and that means we all have to do our part, whatever we can, for the best of everyone, so we can get back to doing what we do best.

Written by Jimmy Robertson


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