As all Mississippi adults become eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations per Gov. Tate Reeves’ announcement last week, Mississippi State University is now offering vaccines to every faculty and staff member, as well as some students.
The university began administering Pfizer vaccines March 16 at its on-campus vaccination site. MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said most of the first allotment of vaccines the university has obtained went to employees, while 170 doses of the vaccine were made available Wednesday to the first students who made appointments.
The rest of the student population will have access to the expected second allotment of vaccines, Salter said.
“When we receive the second allotment — we don’t know when that will be — then we can make it available to all adults, including students,” Salter said.
MSU John C. Longest Health Center worker Cal Morris said people can receive their vaccines inside the health clinic or at the outdoor portico the center has assembled. As of Wednesday, health center employees began giving vaccines in Humphrey Coliseum as well.
“We have three tents set up if you want to get your vaccine outside of the clinic,” Morris said. “The first tent you get the paperwork signed, the second tent the doctor signs you off and the third tent is where you get the vaccine.”
Department of Communication Professor Pete Smith Jr. said from a faculty standpoint, he believes vaccinations are the only way the university is going to return to any sense of normalcy. He said he got his vaccine at the health center because of the convenience of receiving it on campus instead of an off-campus vaccination site.
“It was a breeze,” Smith said. “They were so helpful and patient and took time to explain things. They made it very easy to get the vaccine.”
Salter said he does not know if the university will require faculty, staff and students to acquire vaccinations before returning to campus in the fall, but it will comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines.
“It’s just too early to say whether there will be vaccine requirements, and I think that will be guided in great measure by what the state and federal government instructions are at that time,” Salter said. “… We’re encouraging everyone to protect themselves and protect others by availing themselves of the vaccine.”
Salter said he is hopeful MSU can offer students a “more normal college experience” in the fall, following a year where that experience was greatly hampered by the pandemic.
“If people will continue to observe social distancing, wear the mask and not quit on the protocols before we’ve had time to get the benefit from them, then I feel very optimistic that we’re headed in a good direction for the fall and getting back to a more normal experience,” Salter said. “That obviously is what the university wants, and we know it’s what our students want.”
Mississippi University for Women is not administering vaccinations on campus at this time, said Dean and Professor of Nursing Tammie McCoy, but the university submitted an application to MSDH to hopefully receive an allotment in the near future.
“We’re prepared and ready to administer vaccines as soon as we get them,” McCoy said.