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Young Michigan residents to qualify for COVID-19 vaccine April 5

| Tuesday, March 23, 2021

In two weeks, Notre Dame students from Michigan may be able to qualify for a COVID-19 vaccination. On March 12, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced all state residents over the age of 16 will be eligible to receive a vaccine starting Monday, April 5.

In a weekend update email Friday, the University recognized the developments of the neighboring state of Michigan.

“We realize that we have community members who live in Michigan,” the University said. “We are following the developments in Michigan closely.” The email also provided a link to which Michigan residents can use to sign up for the vaccine.

University vice president of public affairs and communications Paul Browne told The Observer in an email correspondence the University encourages students who are eligible to receive the vaccine at a location within “close proximity” and meet age, residence and/or other eligibility requirements in neighboring states to do so. 

“By close proximity we mean reachable within driving distance, not air travel, with no need to stay overnight or stop for meals or other needs,” Browne said. “For example, students with no more than a four hour drive to parts of Michigan where eligibility is at age 16 and above are encouraged to be vaccinated there.”

First-year finance student Tristan Reilly said he is considering traveling to Michigan as soon as he is able to be vaccinated. “It would be a change to almost go back to normal,” he said. “I’d travel home as soon as I could, [maybe] April or May,” he said.

Reilly is a current Keenan resident from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Reilly said he’s never had COVID-19 and while he doesn’t worry too much about contracting it, he hopes he can get the vaccine so he doesn’t have to worry as much about testing. 

Senior Ryan Neff grew up in the Detroit area of Michigan, and will be eligible for the vaccine starting April 5. Neff, a physics and piano performance double major currently living off campus, has not contracted the virus.

“I know even though if I got [COVID-19], probably nothing would happen,” he said. “But I’d still really like to get the vaccine, just for the peace of mind knowing I would be protected from it.” 

Neff noted, with the vaccine, he would still wear a mask and be cautious when socializing, “It would make me feel just a little less anxious about talking to people who I’m not rooming with,” he said. 

In response to the University’s encouragement of short distance travel, Neff said, “I think that definitely makes sense, that’s definitely the best reason to travel to get the vaccine.” 

Even though his current address is in Ypsilanti, near Detroit, he plans on trying to be vaccinated at nearby Niles, Michigan, about twenty minutes away. 

Senior Sarah Galbenski, a resident of Grosse Point Shores, is scheduled to receive her vaccine today. She said when she heard the news from Gov. Whitmer, she called the Spectrum Health Lakeland Hospital in Niles, Michigan, and was able to set up an appointment before the April 5th date.

“When I told [an employee] that my father was a liver transplant recipient and severely immunocompromised, he told me that I would qualify on March 22,” she told The Observer over email.

Galbenski said among a number of reasons for being vaccinated — including protection against the virus and any short-term or long-term effects — is to protect her family, friends, community and especially her father.

“Every person who gets the vaccine makes the world a little safer for him to venture into, and my vaccination will make his home environment safer this summer as well,” she added.

Galbenski said she is excited about Michigan’s updates of the vaccination process‘ expansion and the work the state is doing to ensure the “elderly, immunocompromised or those whose socioeconomic status heightens their vulnerability“ continue to be a priority for vaccination.

Currently, Indianans aged 40 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine, as well as those with certain health conditions. Notre Dame provost Marie Lynn Miranda and executive vice president Shannon Cullinan said in a statement March 16 they encourage all members of the Notre Dame community to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. 

Additionally, Notre Dame has created an online infrastructure to document vaccine status and completion for community members through their University Health Services patient health portal.

Browne also said regardless of vaccination, students are required to show up for surveillance testing. 

On its vaccine HERE information page, the University said, “If you are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination in your state, we encourage you to make an appointment to get vaccinated.”

The page also contains updated information about vaccine eligibility in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. 

Notre Dame’s temporary vaccination site will open this weekend, where anyone currently eligible in Indiana may be vaccinated. In the March 16 statement, Miranda said the state is looking for Spanish interpreter volunteers for the event.

“The Indiana Department of Health is looking for volunteers to serve as Spanish language interpreters,“ the statement said. “No medical training is required, but volunteers must be fluent in Spanish. To volunteer, please email [email protected].“

“In St. Joseph County, more than 29,000 people had been fully vaccinated as of late last week,” the South Bend Tribune reported on March 16. “More than 25% of the county, or nearly 51,000 people, had received at least one vaccine shot.”

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About Isabella Volmert

Isabella "Issy" Volmert is a junior majoring in English and minoring in theology and journalism, ethics and democracy at the University of Notre Dame. She currently serves The Observer as assistant managing editor. Follow her @ivolmertnews for niche JED Twitter content.

Contact Isabella