Mercer students vaccinated in COVID-19 health efforts

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Image: Dean Yusuf

A COVID Vaccine Record Card

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out around the United States, some students and faculty at Mercer have been offered the opportunity to get vaccinated against the virus. Throughout the Columbus, Macon and Savannah campuses, medical teams have received vaccinations from their regional health districts in Columbus, Memorial Health in Savannah and Coliseum and Navicent Health in Macon.

So far, among Mercer students, most healthcare students working in their clinical rotations for the Department of Public Health as well as third- and fourth-year medical students have been offered vaccinations. Hopefully, first- and second-year medical students will soon follow suit.

Dr. Lynn Denny, Medical Director for Student Health at Mercer University and a Mercer Medicine graduate, said the current rollout offers vaccines for healthcare workers, residents and staff for long-term care facilities and nursing homes, adults age 65 and older and their caregivers, firefighters and first responders.

“Healthcare workers have been dealing with COVID now for about a year, and it is important for us to help our patients, our community and ourselves. This COVID vaccine has become an important tool for our society to become healthy again,” Denny said. “Everyone’s got an elderly relative or friend who is at an increased risk for COVID complications, and this vaccine will help them and improve our herd immunity.”

Mercer nursing student Emily Landrum said she and her roommate accepted the offer to get the Pfizer vaccine in early January. They have been keeping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated on any symptoms they’ve faced while still working on hospital floors with COVID-19 patients.

“Initially, I was a little nervous to get the vaccine just because it was created so quickly and so many people have bad things to say about it, but as a young, healthy, active and working in healthcare individual, I felt as though I was in the prime category of people to receive it,” Landrum said.

Landrum said she felt a couple of minor symptoms after receiving the vaccine.

“It made me a little sick, but nothing too major, and I was up and going the next day back at work,” she said. “My roommate had barely any side effects. When I get the flu vaccine, I usually feel a little sick, so I was expecting it anyway.”

The vaccine is composed of mRNA, which is not to be confused with the live virus. Landrum said she thinks this makes the vaccine more effective and opens up an entirely new line of study in medicine; she thinks there are more possibilities for vaccines through mRNA research, which could potentially cure other viruses and diseases such as Parkinson’s and some forms of cancer such as colorectal cancer.

While some Mercerians believe getting vaccinated is necessary, others have highlighted their concerns for the vaccination rollout, worried that some healthcare workers shouldn’t be vaccinated at this time.

A student who currently works in healthcare telework for the Macon Department of Public Health was told that she was eligible, but she said she felt less justified to receive the vaccine compared to patients suffering from the disease.

The student, however, has felt judged for choosing not to get vaccinated and asked to remain anonymous. She said she is happy for her coworkers who chose to get the vaccine.

Though other college students may be enthusiastic about the vaccine, the student said she is worried it won’t reach enough people who urgently need it.

“I just feel like there are more deserving people who could use the vaccine,” the student said.

It is still unclear when all students can expect to be vaccinated.

“I would encourage all Mercerians to get the vaccine when the time comes, but for now please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and stay six feet apart from anyone else,” Denny said.