“It was a super fast process. We saw the email yesterday, we got our appointments yesterday, and then were able to get it this morning,” said Michaela Peine, a senior who got the Moderna vaccine at the first clinic, held at Hillsdale High School on March 31.
Those who went to the first clinic can receive their second dose on April 28. A second clinic will take place on April 2 at the Dearth Community Center in the Branch County Fairgrounds in Coldwater, with the second shot administered on April 30.
The clinic at Hillsdale High School had things “down to a science” on Wednesday, according to Peine.
“We didn’t have to wait in line,” Peine said. “They took us right when we got there and we just had to fill out some paperwork. We saw a bunch of other college students there. And we were in and out in less than 15 minutes.”
Since March 1, COVID-19 cases in Michigan have spiked almost 400%, according to data released by the state of Michigan. In an interview with Crain’s Detroit on Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suggested vaccine administrators expand their eligibility to include the 16 and up age group so that the state can achieve herd immunity as quickly as possible. With the expanded vaccine eligibility, Whitmer said providers should still prioritize those who are at risk.
After three straight weeks of zero reported cases of COVID-19 on campus, the Student Activities Office newsletter reported three active cases on March 25 and seven on March 29. Five students are in quarantine due to contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, as of March 29.
The Hillsdale College football team, which has played only one game so far this season, had to cancel its March 28 game against Lake Erie University at the last minute. The team is still scheduled to play Tiffin University Saturday.
“Looking at other colleges around the country and their numbers, our having zero cases for so long seems to be an anomaly and a bit of good luck,” said Diane Philipp, vice president for student affairs and dean of women. “We are not surprised to see a few cases on campus again, though we are watching each situation carefully and asking our community to take continued care to protect those who may be more vulnerable.”
The BHSJ Community Health Agency receives around 2,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccine every week, which it distributes to the tri-county area, according to its website. It began accepting all residents aged 16 and up on March 23.
On March 26, students were notified via email by Brock Lutz, the college’s director of health services, that they were eligible to receive the vaccine. The email also included a survey to determine how many students would like to get vaccinated if the opportunity were available.
Four days later, students received another email from Lutz directing them to make individual appointments with the health agency through the agency’s website. These appointments are granted on a first-come first-serve basis, the email said, and are the same appointments available to the general public.
Students who wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccination can go to the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joe Health Department website and sign up with their campus address, date of birth, and preferred time. Students who do not have means of transportation to the clinic can seek assistance from the deans.
In January, Hillsdale Hospital administered 900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine via a clinic in the Searle Center to healthcare workers and others eligible, including college faculty and staff members who were in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’s Tier 1A and 1B categories. Students were ineligible to receive the vaccine at that time. The BHSJ Community Health Agency and Hillsdale Hospital have hosted a few other clinics since then, including one last Thursday, according to Rebecca Burns, the health officer at BHSJ Community Health Agency.
The agency has not yet worked with Hillsdale College’s health center to bring a student-focused vaccination clinic to campus, instead directing students to register at its other sites. The agency does not currently have plans to host a clinic on Hillsdale’s campus, Burns said.
“The state is receiving more Johnson & Johnson vaccine here this next week,” Burns said, referring to the newer, single-dose vaccine option. “As we get more of that vaccine, that would be a perfect vaccination for college students who may be headed home for the summer. So hopefully we’ll be able to do some vaccine clinics there at the college.”