SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- The Springfield-Greene County Health Department and leaders from all higher education establishments in Springfield, discussed the importance of college students getting vaccinated before the school year starts.
Katie Towns with the Health Department says there are 259 COVID-19 patients in Greene County, 17% of those patients are under 20 years old.
A majority of hospitalized patients are under 40. Towns says this week a 26-year-old with COVID-19 died at home.
“It’s making me very worried going into the fall semester, especially with the new variant that is more transmissable,” said Abigail Jensen, an incoming senior.
“I saw my grandfather struggle for 60 days in the Cox COVID Unit,” said Lauren Jackson, incoming sophomore. “He was intubated twice and it was honestly on of the most terrible deaths I’ve ever seen I would never want anyone else to experience that, so I personally got the vaccine.”
MSU President Clif Smart shared information about vaccine incentives for students and employees. On Tuesday morning Smart released steps the university is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on MSU’s campus.
In “Clif’s Notes for July 20, 2021,” he listed several ways he is working to lower the risk of COVID-19:
- Student Vaccination Incentive Program
- Unvaccinated students will be tested before moving into residence halls in the fall
- COVID-19 testing at Magers Health and Wellness Center and asymptomatic testing throughout campus.
- There will also be weekly wastewater testing at each residence hall to identify possible outbreaks.
- Kentwood Hall is set aside for isolation and quarantine housing and has contracts for off-campus housing options.
- There are also contingency plans for classes and student services to be temporarily moved to alternate delivery.
- MSU’s COVID-19 dashboard will go live in the fall semester.
I was very excited to get the vaccine, to protect myself and other vulnerable populations,” said Peyton Claypool, incoming Junior.
There will be a virtual town hall on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 3:30 p.m. to discuss more on COVID-19 prevention strategies.
Evangel President Dr. Mike Rakes says vaccines are not required for students but vaccines will be accessible for those who want it and will have vaccine education opportunities.
“As a pastor, we lost five people in our congregation,” said Rakes. “It has influenced my heart so much on the matter to really enourge our students to go ahead and get vaccinated.”
Drury Executive President Beth Harville says the university has several vaccine incentives.
“From tuition dollars to tech gifts, gift cards, from park-anywhere-passes on campus to a night in the president’s box at a basketball game,” said Harville.
With the possiblity to win several prizes, students say they’re pretty intrigued.
“Especially the free tuition,” said Claypool.
“Even getting a Nintendo Switch is like high on people’s priority list,” said Jensen.
OTC President Hal Higdon says the community college will not have incentives but will have a vaccine event for students.
“The bridge is no longer masking, it’s no longer social distancing,” said Higdon. “The answer is clear in front of us, it’s vaccination.”