Faculty, community members and essential student workers received COVID-19 vaccinations on March 10 in a clinic in the Walton Lifetime Health Complex.
During the first half of the day, 312 people received their second dose of the Moderna vaccine, and in the latter half, 200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines were administered, according to Julie Gumm, director of University Marketing and Communications. Seven additional individuals received their first round of the Moderna vaccine for a total of 519 shots for the event.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the state is currently in Phase 1-B of the vaccine distribution process. On March 8, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that distribution would be open to all Arkansans in Phase 1-B and moved up individuals “with intellectual or developmental disabilities from Phase 1-C to Phase 1-B,” according to 40/29 News.
University President Chip Pollard said he was thankful to open the clinic to more people due to the governor’s announcement. “So, we’ve got people from churches … from the adult development center … anybody over 65,” Pollard said. “We’ve reached out to as many people as we can to be a service to the larger Siloam community.”
After first opening the clinic to employees, retirees ages 65 years and older, spouses and parents of employees and student essential workers, the university’s waitlist was opened to eligible community members. “We then had a list of organizations we began the process of reaching out to the local Spanish-speaking churches, the ministerial alliance to vaccinate people over 65. Then the Governor opened vaccines to all of 1-B so that meant we could vaccinate pastors and a variety of other people, including more JBU spouses who worked in 1-B fields. We also connected with the Adult Development Center and Ability Tree who had about a dozen clients come and get vaccines,” Gumm stated in an email.
“We are extremely grateful for all of the nursing students who helped do vaccinations and all the other volunteers that gave of their time to make the clinic work. It was really moving to see how grateful many of the people were to be able to receive the vaccine,” Gumm said.
Bianca Hernandez, senior nursing major, was one of the students administering vaccinations, and she received her vaccine during the clinic. “I feel good about it. It’s nice to finally have some protection … [and] be able to contribute to protecting others,” Hernandez said.
The clinic was put on through a partnership with Heartland Pharmacy, located in Gentry, Arkansas. Sarah Ledford, a pharmacist from Heartland, oversaw the clinic on Wednesday. For those concerned about the lower efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, she encourages them to “look at all of them in the big picture.” “Our big picture is we’re trying to prevent people from being hospitalized and dying, and, across the board with all these vaccines, that’s a very similar profile,” Ledford said.
Siloam Springs resident David Hansen received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “This came up because our son works for JBU, and so they were opening it up to family members. We said, ‘Okay, it looks like it might be more complicated to travel in the future if you don’t have a vaccine’ … so we decided we would go ahead and get it,” Hansen said.
Jenna Tassy, senior elementary education major and essential student worker, also received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. She said she looks forward to seeing her grandparents. “I think it’s definitely a personal decision, but do the research and talk to people that know what they’re talking about when it comes to vaccines … I was able to talk to people that know more about it and decide from there,” Tassy said.