Today is a day I’ve looked forward to since Michigan State University started remote learning more than a year ago. Now anyone 16 years of age and older, including international students, is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
I imagine many of you have been frustrated with the lack of information specific to your age group and the length of time it has taken to get here. In fact, I have been hesitant to share information with you not wanting to add to this frustration. Still, it seems most of you have already been considering your options.
According to a recent survey of MSU students, more than 80% of both undergraduate and graduate students say they plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to them. This response was nearly consistent across all age, gender and ethnicity groups. Most of you identified protecting yourselves or caring for others as the driving factors in deciding to receive a vaccine. Nearly 30% of you expressed wanting to get back to normal.
This is optimistic and welcome news — especially as the ability to return to a more typical fall semester will depend on you and your peers receiving a vaccine. Also, it is clear a more typical fall semester is what you all want. In the survey, the top two responses to “what getting back to normal means to you” were in-person classes and being able to interact with each other. I couldn’t agree more.
If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to register for an appointment to receive a vaccine. Vaccinations are available through most local health departments, hospital systems, and local pharmacies like Meijer, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, Walmart (mid-central and northern Michigan) or Snyder Drugs (U.P. residents). Students can also register for the vaccine through the FEMA/State of Michigan Ford Field COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Detroit and West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.
While not an exhaustive list, we have information on the Together We Will website where you can register for an appointment. It is best to register with as many providers as possible so you may receive a vaccine sooner. It is equally important that once you receive your vaccine you cancel any other appointments you may have scheduled to give way for others to receive the vaccine.
Even once you are fully vaccinated, remember to continue the essential health and safety practices that we know can slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. This includes wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing, avoiding crowds, getting tested and washing your hands often.
Our ability to get back to normal with in-person classes and activities is within reach. But only if we all do our part. We need to continue working together towards these goals.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.