Whitney Ervin, Features Editor
Just before the start of the fall semester, JSU announced it would be offering an incentive program for the vaccine. The program is funded by Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and is just one of the many ways JSU is trying to protect and educate students.
One of the tools to fight the virus is the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly recommends receiving the vaccine as it is the defense against the virus. With so many lingering questions and concerns about the vaccine, JSU has taken the initiative to encourage and educate those who are still on the fence. Since August 1, there have been 162 reported cases of COVID-19 in our community. While this is much better than the numbers the university was seeing last semester, it still causes concern. Especially when considering most of these cases were reported in those who had yet to receive the vaccine. With just over 2,000 doses administered at JSU, there is hope.
The deadline for the incentive program is October 15, and the task force is hoping to continue to find ways to encourage vaccination. However, as Chief Michael Barton shared in an interview on September 2, it’s not simply about getting people vaccinated. The COVID-19 response task force at JSU aims to educate those on the fence about the vaccine.
“We would love to see 100% vaccination rate of course,” Barton said. “We also encourage everyone to make the decision for themselves.
Once the deadline comes up, the taskforce is looking into setting up a peer education program. The hope is for students who have received the vaccine to help educate students who haven’t received it about their experience with the vaccine and the information they gathered which led them to their decision.
With the Biden administration rolling out vaccination mandates, many are wondering if vaccinations may be required to attend JSU. Chief Barton was quick to assure if a mandate does go into effect, it will not be from the university level.
“Ultimately, we want people to educate themselves and make this decision for themselves and their families,” he said.
Many people are passing on the vaccine because of the rise of the Delta variant still infecting some people who have been vaccinated. However, Barton still encourages those people to get their research together and consider it nonetheless. Most of those infected now are unvaccinated, and even those who have received the vaccine are not as sick.
It’s been nearly two years since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States. By now it’s become just as much of our daily lives as deciding what to have for breakfast. We pick out our masks side by side with our outfits for the day. It’s the ‘new normal’ nobody asked for.
Like most issues, the pandemic has become heavily politicized and there’s been a lot of division over how things should be handled. One thing everyone can agree on is that we’re all ready to close this chapter of history.