The light at the end of the tunnel: Mass vaccine event instills hope

Freshman Madelyn Wahby and junior Mutiara Schlanker work on homework in Pickler Memorial Library. Some students are reporting a sense of hope after the campus vaccination event. Photo by Bidan Yang

The days of stockpiling toilet paper and binge-watching “Tiger King” are nearing an end. After over a year of isolation, social distancing and disappointment, a glimmer of hope was emailed to Truman State University students, faculty and staff with news of a mass COVID-19 vaccination event Wednesday, April 7. 

This long-awaited event was open to anyone on Truman’s campus who wanted a vaccine, prompting several hundred students, faculty and staff to sign up.

In a survey conducted by professors Nancy Daley-Moore and Scott Alberts, 644 students responded saying they had already been vaccinated. With 360 doses administered at the event, about one-fifth of the students attending Truman have now been vaccinated. Brenda Higgins, associate vice president for student health and wellness, said this means that hopefully, by the fall semester, life will start to go back to normal.

“I always tell people that if the community responded in the same way as [Truman] students, we would be in great shape,” Higgins said.

Kirksville’s Hy-vee Pharmacy was able to provide the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Higgins said the department did this in the interest of the students and in respect of their time. 

Higgins said a lot of planning went into this event, and every base was covered, down to how many pens should be on the tables. She said all of this planning was time-consuming and there were many people involved to make this event possible.

Senior nursing student McKenzie Snyder said nursing students were able to volunteer and draw up vials, as well as oversee the waiting area after people were vaccinated. She said they were excited to see the event succeed without any issues.

“We hadn’t had any bad reactions or anything like that,” Snyder said. “It all went really smoothly.”

Now that this event has taken place, Snyder thinks there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Higgins said she was excited to announce that as long as students, faculty and staff continue to make responsible choices, the idea of going back to “normal” is increasingly possible. 

Freshman David Bradshaw said he is excited for sports events and other campus activities to be in person. He explained that being at Truman for only two semesters has been disappointing for him as none of his extracurricular activities have been in person. 

“Having a vaccination event got me really excited about the prospect of going to sports games and having other events in person,” Bradshaw said.

Not only will campus-wide events have the potential to be open to the public, but Snyder thinks there is now an opportunity for a stronger sense of community.

 The pandemic caused many large campus events to be postponed or canceled. Snyder said she thinks the sense of community at Truman has dwindled, but after the vaccination event, there is hope.

Higgins said that Adair County’s health officials are hopeful that the restrictions will loosen and things will get back to how they used to be. 

In order to have the exciting prospect of normalcy back on campus, Higgins urged students, faculty and staff to take on the responsibility of getting vaccinated and continue to follow the public health announcements that are put in place. 

“I don’t think [Truman] will require the vaccine, so it’s important that students realize the more of them that get vaccinated, the better the possibility is to get back to normal,” Higgins said. “The goal is to get beyond the pandemic and get back to normal.”

Soon, having a full stadium cheering on the Bulldogs during football season won’t be a memory of the past. Nothing is promised, but Higgins said she thinks that taking the necessary precautions can allow for a more familiar life.