On Feb. 23, Sacred Heart University’s Coronavirus Planning Team announced that a vaccination site on campus would open on March 8.
University President John Petillo said Hartford Healthcare wanted to partner with Sacred Heart for a vaccination site on campus, and St. Vincent’s Medical Center will administer the vaccine.
“Our mission is to engage with the community around us,” said Petillo. “St. Vincent’s is administering the vaccine, so they decide the priority list for people.”
Even though it is a convenient site on campus, Sacred Heart community members will not receive special considerations. However, Sacred Heart students are able to volunteer at the site.
“Students can go when their age group is available,” said Petillo. “However, there is a call for student volunteers to administer the vaccine. They then can receive the vaccine.”
Around campus, students are excited for the vaccination site to open.
“I think this is a great idea, so SHU students have easy access when it is their turn to receive the vaccine,” said sophomore Joseph Winterhalter. “Hopefully when more students receive it, our campus will open up more since there will be fewer people able to contract the virus.”
Gary MacNamara, Executive Director of Public Safety, said that Sacred Heart stepped up when the state of Connecticut needed more vaccination sites.
“The site will open in the West Campus Atrium,” said MacNamara. “The first day of vaccinations is currently scheduled for Wednesday, March 10.”
Although the vaccination site will be on Sacred Heart’s campus, Sacred Heart will not be responsible for scheduling appointments.
“In order to get vaccinated, you must make an appointment through the Hartford Healthcare system,” said MacNamara. “More information, such as the type of vaccine administered, will come when the state expands vaccine eligibility.”
The state of Connecticut recently expanded vaccine eligibility to Pre-K-12 educators and child providers as well as residents and workers within the state who are 55+.
“Based on that eligibility list, we here at SHU were able to upload and register students who were in clinical placements, as well as some staff responding to medical calls on campus or those facilitating transportation for COVID-19 positive cases,” said MacNamara. “As that eligibility list expanded, we then uploaded staff who were over 75, then over 65, and recently those 55 and older.”
With more people eligible to receive the vaccine, campus may look different next semester.
“The more people within our community who receive the vaccine will go a long way to loosening restrictions and getting us back on the path of normalcy,” said MacNamara. “It won’t happen overnight. But I do anticipate that over time, more restrictions will be removed if community spread is low.”
Having a vaccination site at West Campus can be especially beneficial to younger students.
“Freshmen and most sophomores don’t have cars on campus and cannot travel off-campus easily to get vaccinated,” said senior Rachel LoJacono, a nursing major. “If they are able to get the vaccine here at Sacred Heart, then it will be fairly easy and convenient for them to do it here.”
The vaccination site is not only beneficial for students, but also the Bridgeport community.
“It is a great idea to have a vaccination site on campus since it allows people easy access in the surrounding area,” said LoJacono. “The more vaccination sites there are in the area, the faster we can vaccinate the population and hopefully get a better handle on the pandemic.”