Eastern Kentucky University is suggesting all students, faculty and staff verify their coronavirus vaccination status in order to establish a baseline percentage of fully vaccinated individuals on campus. The opportunity rolled out Aug. 9 and was also announced through an Aug. 6 email from President David McFaddin.
Students and employees can verify their vaccination status by submitting a COVID-19 Vaccine Completion Form through a secure online portal via EKUDirect. A pop-up reminder appears every time an individual logs into EKUDirect asking for a photo of a vaccination card and status to be uploaded.
“I am encouraging individuals to get vaccinated, as that truly is the way to get through this pandemic and is crucial in us moving forward,” said Bryan Makinen, associate vice president of facilities management and safety and the university’s COVID-19 task force director.
The university’s online portal only collects data for the number of individuals who have received the coronavirus vaccination. The university assumes that individuals who have not submitted a status are not vaccinated. EKU’s raw count of vaccinated students and employees was 2,713 people as of Aug. 19, and the number continues to change.
Students, faculty and staff who have completed the COVID-19 Vaccine Completion Form and are vaccinated have the eligibility for various incentives, such as athletic event VIP packages, free recreation classes, dining dollars, free parking permits and reserved parking spaces. To learn more information and see the list of prizes visit staywell.eku.edu/vaccine.
“I am happily vaccinated and will get a booster when they are available,” said Robbie Wethington, a senior broadcasting and electronic media major from Danville, Kentucky. “It is good to know who is vaccinated and who is not.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are actively working to determine what percentage of a population needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity, though the White House has continuously pushed for a 70% vaccination rate.
EKU is collecting vaccination data through the online portal to help make future decisions about how the university will move forward once the herd immunity percentage is defined. The percentage will give the university an opportunity to make adjustments to any restrictions that may be in place moving forward with COVID-19. The university will also take into account the guidance given from Gov. Andy Beshear and the commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Dr. Steven Stack.
“It is important that everyone does what feels right to them; you ultimately have to be at peace with your decision,” said Niki Hill, sign language interpreter for EKU’s Center for Student Accessibility. “I choose to get vaccinated. As an interpreter, I have to go into a lot of different areas on campus, so I understand why I would need to get a vaccination.”
Makinen said that although vaccinations are available on campus through pop-up clinics, vaccinations are also readily available throughout all of Madison County. The CDC and the state of Kentucky offer a vaccine tracker that shows the different types of vaccinations available in different clinic locations around any given zip code. To learn more information about the COVID-19 vaccine tracker, visit vaccines.gov.
Vaccine opportunities are also promoted through social media, EKU websites, campus organizations and campus departments like Student Government Association and Student Health Services.
On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine full approval for individuals 16 and older. Other available vaccines are currently operating under an FDA emergency use authorization as they await approval.
To learn more information about COVID-19 vaccinations and the university’s pop-up vaccination clinic schedule, visit staywell.eku.edu/vaccine.