FGCU Begins Distributing Moderna Vaccine
By Sam Romero
FGCU began distributing the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month.
In an email to students, the vice president of FGCU said that the school is currently a distribution center for COVID-19 vaccines. The university received 100 Moderna vaccines to circulate among students, faculty and staff over 65 years old. The vaccines were distributed for free on Feb. 4.
“FGCU will vaccinate people 65 and over. It’s a very limited supply, which is kind of what we’re experiencing nationwide. So, I think that’s kind of their plan moving forward,” said Professor Robert Hawkes from the Marieb College of Health & Human Services.
Susan Evans, the vice president and chief of staff, said this is a huge breakthrough for FGCU.
“It’s going to take some time for enough vaccines to be produced and widely distributed, but this is a significant milestone in the COVID-19 journey,” Evans said.
The eligible recipients of the vaccine on campus received an email on Monday, Feb. 1, with an application to get the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccinations are done through FGCU Student Health Services.
Each person will receive a second dose in approximately one month.
Evans said that 390 faculty and staff, including adjuncts and OPS, and 26 students are eligible for vaccines.
She is hopeful that FGCU will receive additional vaccines in the coming weeks and months.
Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at FGCU, is confident that FGCU will implement the vaccine appropriately.
“I suspect that they’ll do it well,” Bergerson said. “This will be something important for the university as it’s a part of the bigger, larger community.”
Bergerson was among the first vaccine recipients in December, but he is animated that FGCU has become a distribution center.
Another professor at FGCU believes this opportunity will make the vaccine distribution on campus easier for eligible recipients.
“I think this is a great idea to make the campus a vaccine distribution center as it makes logistical sense to get everyone here quickly vaccinated. The more locations there are, the better it is,” said sociology professor Dr. Jan-Martijn Meij.
Hawkes said that the transmission rate for the younger population tends to be fairly lower than for seniors. He also said the death and infectious rate for COVID-19 in Florida have continued to decline lately, and we are right under 10,000 cases a day.
In the fall semester, FGCU ended with almost 550 COVID-19 cases from students, faculty and staff.
Brian Hamman, the Lee County Commissioner, said Lee County has been short on receiving vaccines, so distribution at FGCU is definitely a milestone.
According to Hamman, Florida receives a current rate of approximately 260,000 vaccines every week while having 22 million residents.
Two weeks ago, Florida received 307,000 first doses from the Department of Health, with 2,500 going to Lee County and 100 to FGCU. Hamman said vaccinating people over 65 years old and over is essential.
Other colleges have been distributing the vaccine on campuses in accordance with Florida Department of Health requirements. Florida International University (FIU) has been one of the schools to lead the distributions.
FIU began distributions on Jan 31. The school received 2,000 Moderna vaccines, and like FGCU, have been distributing them through FIU health care facilities to faculty, staff and students 65 and older.
FIU News presented what several professors had to say of receiving their first doses on campus. Many were delighted to finally receive the vaccine and contribute to the change of the pandemic.
Since FGCU can only distribute vaccines according to the Florida Department of Health, age is currently a limitation for vaccine recipients. However, Hamman said people over 65, especially those working in the college setting, should be of importance.
“For people who are over the age of 65 who still need to work and still need to be in contact with people, those are I think, should be the priority to get vaccinated because we don’t want to see we don’t want to lose any of them,” Hamman said.
He also said it is important to distribute them until Florida receives enough supply to give everyone a vaccine. Now that FGCU is supplying vaccines to its older faculty and students, Hamman is confident that change is underway.
Professor Hawkes, who also works as a healthcare provider, said that the distribution of vaccines will allow a more foreseeable end in sight.
“I think that’s kind of why people are looking at the fall and saying that’s probably going to be the first beginning of returning to normal, but it’s all going to depend on vaccine distribution, the availability of it and if people are receptive in getting the vaccine,” Hawkes said.
Hawkes said that distribution to people under 65 could happen during the summer if the situation continues in its current route.
With the day coming closer where more age groups can receive the vaccine, many students are interested in how the school will distribute the vaccine to their age group.
Now, FGCU teachers are proposing that the school offer an easier process for FGCU when vaccinating teachers. Bergerson is concerned about the lines that might pile up.
“I think the key is, well, one of them is notifying people, organizing it, implementing the advice you for a minute, implementing the process and administering it so that you don’t have these huge, long lines,” Bergerson said.
Dr. Meij agreed and said that distribution among office units would also benefit eligible faculty vaccine recipients.
“I wonder if it would even be possible to have vaccine teams go unit by unit so you can get vaccinated in your office, avoiding lines and related chaos,” Meij said.
While many are interested in how this vaccination will steer, Evans still calls FGCU to stay safe and stand as an example to society.
“I think this is something that’s an important mission for the university to do, not only for the students and the faculty and the administrators but as an example for society,” Evans said.
“As a reminder, this is not the time for people to let down their guard. We all have to remain vigilant for ourselves and each other,” Evans said.
She encourages FGCU to continue wearing masks, avoiding crowds, washing hands, observing limited capacities on-campus facilities and completing the Veoci app before coming to campus.
“There’s a light at the end of this strange tunnel, but our actions will determine how quickly and how safely we get there,” Evans said.