Santa Fe College partnered with the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County to host a COVID-19 vaccine event Thursday, providing 442 doses of the Moderna vaccine to students, faculty, staff and community members.
Vaccinations were administered at the Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall on the college’s northwest campus. A total of 424 people received their second dose of the vaccine, while 18 people got their first vaccine dose, said Alex Rohlwing, a government operations consultant in region three of the Florida Department of Health.
Santa Fe College student ambassadors handed out Subway coupons for a free 6-inch sandwich and a cookie to Santa Fe College students, faculty and staff members as they exited the building after getting vaccinated.
Santa Fe College custodial supervisor Vivian McPhee, 58, did not need this incentive from the college to get her second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
She said she wanted to get vaccinated because of her family, especially after her mother died from COVID-19 in August.
“The devastating loss that I suffered, I just couldn’t imagine my kids losing me, too,” she said.
Advance registration was not required, as people who received their first dose at the college’s April 15 vaccination event were told to return for their second dose Thursday, according to communications manager Jay Anderson.
At the college’s Feb. 5 vaccination event, more than 200 people aged 65 and older received a vaccine, according to a Santa Fe College Facebook post. The college’s April 15 vaccination event provided vaccines to more than 400 people aged 18 and older, according to a Santa Fe College Facebook post.
COVID-19 vaccine recipients must be at least 18 years old to qualify for the Moderna immunization, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine received Food and Drug Administration approval to be administered to children as young as 12 years old.
Santa Fe College Kika Silva Pla Planetarium Director James Albury, 53, said he was hesitant about getting vaccinated. But after researching COVID-19 vaccines and speaking with his colleagues, he said he decided to get the shot.
“I can understand why people are hesitant because of how political the whole thing has become, but I encourage people to do as much research as they can,” he said.
Thursday’s event is an example of the college’s continuing effort to create a safer and healthier environment, according to the event’s news release.
“The health and safety of our college community remains paramount and therefore we are pleased to be able to bring this opportunity onsite,” the event’s news release stated.
Between May 4 and May 10, one employee and three student cases were opened, according to a report from Santa Fe College’s Human Resources regarding COVID-19 count information.
Out of the four cases opened, a positive COVID-19 test was reported for two student cases. The report stated that neither one of the two positive cases was on campus while positive. From March 2020 to May 10, 756 positive cases have been reported to the college.
Some attendees arrived alone, while others came with friends and family members.
Ky Guitar, an 18-year-old Santa Fe College associate degree student, received his second dose alongside his roommate at the event. A black Labrador retriever service dog trotted along next to them, tail wagging emphatically.
“I don’t want to be responsible for killing anybody,” Guitar said, regarding why he wanted to be vaccinated. “I would feel absolutely terrible even if I never got COVID-19 if I were to, you know, transmit it to somebody through surface or whatever it could be.”
Mackenzie Brantley, a 19-year-old Santa Fe College construction management student, showed up at the event to receive her second dose.
She said she was nervous during her first shot because of her fear of needles but wanted to get vaccinated to protect herself and others.
“If I can do this, I can help out those who can’t get the vaccine for whatever reason,” she said.
While over 400 people received a vaccine Thursday, Brantley said she respects those who choose not to receive a vaccination.
“It’s your body. You can do whatever you want,” Brantley said. “It’s kind of up to each person. But just be mindful of others’ opinions as to why and respecting it.”
During the event, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced updated COVID-19 guidance during a press briefing Thursday that — apart from certain situations — people who are fully vaccinated can move about indoors and outside without wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Walensky said during the briefing. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Contact Antonia LaRocca at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @antoniarlarocca.
Antonia LaRocca is a staff writer at The Alligator.