KEARNEY – Sophia Harder got vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect herself and those around her.
It’s that simple.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney junior signed up for the vaccine as soon as it was available last spring. She works in UNK Student Health and studies biology education. She knew she needed to do her part to help end this pandemic.
“I just want to do what I can to help keep everyone safe,” Harder said.
That’s the message UNK is sending to students and employees in hopes of increasing vaccination rates on campus: This is a caring community, and we look out for each other.
“Our health decisions can impact those around us. By getting vaccinated, you’re thinking about the person beside you, not just yourself,” said Wendy Schardt, director of UNK Student Health.
UNK is strongly encouraging COVID-19 vaccination for all Lopers to protect the campus and Kearney communities and support a return to normalcy.
“The goal is to keep people healthy and keep us in person, and this is how we get there,” said John Falconer, senior adviser to the chancellor for executive affairs.
Student Health conducted surveys in June among students and employees who tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous year. Those responses showed roughly 90% of faculty and staff were either vaccinated or planned to get vaccinated. However, that figure was only 60% among student respondents.
Another voluntary survey being conducted this week includes all students taking at least one on-campus class this semester. That survey, which ends Sunday, shows almost 70% of students are vaccinated.
“To effectively control the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of severe illness, we need to see that student number go up,” Falconer said.
There are plenty of ways for UNK students and employees to receive the vaccine.
Two Rivers Public Health Department is offering on-campus vaccination clinics from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Nebraskan Student Union atrium on the following dates:
- Thursday, Sept. 16
- Thursday, Oct. 7
- Thursday, Oct. 28
All three vaccine options – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – are available.
Those interested in receiving the vaccine should register ahead of time at vaccinate.ne.gov. People under the age of 19 are asked to bring a written consent form from a parent or guardian. Those who have started a sequence of vaccinations elsewhere are asked to bring their immunization record from the previous vaccination.
Each appointment should take about 15 minutes. There is no cost.
UNK Student Health is also providing vaccinations for students and employees, with all three options available at no cost. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 308-865-8218 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The consent form for people under the age of 19 is available on the Student Health website. Masks are required inside the Student Health offices.
If an on-campus time doesn’t work, Student Health can help schedule an appointment at another free location in the community.
Twenty-five students received the vaccine at an on-campus clinic during last month’s Blue and Gold Showcase and an additional 43 doses have been administered through Student Health since then.
“I’m hoping that momentum continues,” Schardt said. “There’s so much misinformation and hesitancy out there, so I’m very happy students are signing up.”
“There are so many obvious reasons why we want people to be vaccinated,” she added.
During the fall semester, unvaccinated students and employees who are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 will be required to quarantine if they weren’t wearing a mask. Those who can show proof of vaccination will not be required to quarantine, although they’re expected to self-monitor for symptoms and report any changes to their health.
“If students don’t want to get quarantined, the vaccine is a powerful answer to that,” Falconer said.