ADA — College students won’t have to leave campus to find a COVID-19 vaccine, as the next phase of vaccinations in Ohio will strategically target young adults on college campuses due to their high risk of spreading the disease from attending large social gatherings or travel.
Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled his plan to immunize as many college students as possible before students leave campus in May, bringing vaccines directly to students on college campuses starting this week.
“While fewer of our young people get sick from COVID-19,” DeWine said, “the evidence clearly shows that they are significant carriers because of their interaction with other people. … More socialization, more movement, more contacts.”
The clinics will use single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which are easier to transport and won’t require a second appointment for students who will soon be leaving campus.
By bringing vaccines to college campuses, DeWine said he believes more students will opt to take it.
“A lot of them feel as though they’ve been cheated,” said Karen Kier, a professor of pharmacy practice and preventative care specialist for Ohio Northern University’s HealthWise program, which has deployed a mobile health clinic to assist in the vaccination effort.
Perceived vulnerability is a primary indicator of vaccine uptake, Kier said, but many college students and young adults don’t believe they are at risk for serious illness from COVID-19. And many have already resumed traveling and social activities before vaccination, which could undermine the appeal of vaccines as a ticket out of the pandemic.
“This is when they’re supposed to be young … and suddenly huge restrictions come into their lives,” Kier said. “They’re not looking at it in a perspective of, if we get to 90% vaccinated, which includes me, then it can be more normal.”
Ohio Northern University got its first glimpse on Friday of how many college students are eager to be vaccinated when the university’s mobile health clinic administered shots on the Ada campus, welcoming a combination of students and adults who live near campus.
“The one thing that I always try to encourage people is while yes, you’re at less of a risk, it’s still important because it’s for other people,” said Alex Nixon, a fifth-year pharmacy student at Ohio Northern University who assisted with Friday’s mobile clinic in Ada. “It’s not just for yourself. The key for us opening back up is going to be more than just a few seniors getting vaccinated. It’s going to be 70% to 80% of us.”