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Saint Mary’s vaccinates students

| Monday, April 19, 2021

Saint Mary’s College held its first vaccination clinic Friday for students and community members to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The clinic had a significant turnout, with a large percent of the Saint Mary’s population receiving the vaccine after the school announced the decision requiring students to be fully vaccinated for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Friday’s clinic was the first of two. The second clinic is scheduled for May 7 to allow all those who participated Friday to come back and receive their second dose. The vaccines were provided by Meijer and administered by many health workers.

The College also had several hundred vaccines left to offer the campus community or anyone who wanted to stop by and get vaccinated.

Crystal Ramirez | The Observer
Saint Mary’s students waited in the vaccine center to make sure no one experienced an adverse reaction.

Vice president of enrollment management Mona Bowe said the vaccine clinic planning process was very time-consuming. 

“It took a long time. It wasn’t a decision that was made overnight or that was made lightly because we understand there is anxiety about the vaccine,” Bowe said. “There’s a lot that we don’t know yet. We feel comfortable with the science behind the vaccine and what we are seeing. We were looking for information before we made the decision from all different sources.”

Bowe said she listened to community input from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and Pope Francis on what they said about the vaccine — to view it as the common good.

“We also listened to what the Bishop of Fort Wayne and South Bend Bishop Rhoades and also [what] Pope Francis said, talking about the vaccine and seeing it as part of the common good and how people who are getting vaccinated now are helping stop the pandemic around the world,” Bowe said. “So we see it almost as an obligation, for not just the Saint Mary’s community, the tri-campus community and the Michiana community but globally.”

As of last September, Bowe has been one of the two co-chairs of the COVID response team. When asked what mass vaccination means to Saint Mary’s, Bowe spoke of the school’s hopes to get back to a normal semester for the students, staff and campus community.

“For a place like Saint Mary’s, [mass vaccination] means getting a lot closer to a normal fall. We will be able to ease some of the restrictions,” Bowe said. “We still have to follow state and county mandates, but as for the restrictions in Saint Mary’s we will be able to ease some of them as we have more and more students who are vaccinated.”

Bowe emphasized being able to provide the full Saint Mary’s experience.

“So I think for us the decision to do this was to give you, the students, your experience back,” Bowe said. “We know the experience is based on relationships between students, relationships with faculty, with other administrators in the college and that’s hard to do virtually. So we want to go back to giving you the experience you deserve and that you expected when you decided to come to Saint Mary’s.”

Many students at the clinic said they were getting the vaccine because the school had made it a requirement, but also in hopes of seeing a more normal semester in the fall.

Senior Ashanti Leach was one of the many students at the vaccine clinic getting her first dose of the vaccine.

Crystal Ramirez | The Observer
Saint Mary’s senior Ashanti Leach received her vaccine at the Friday clinic.

As a senior, Leach is not required to be fully vaccinated because she will not be retuning to campus for the 2021-2022 academic year. In a text message conversation she spoke on her decision to receive the vaccine.

“I decided to get vaccinated after making an informative decision that it would be in the best interest of my personal health and the health of those around me,” Leach said. “I would also like our campus and the community to gain some level of normality.”

Bowe also spoke on her hopes and goals for the campus following the vaccination clinic and decision to require students to be fully vaccinated for the upcoming academic year.

“I would say just finish strong. We just have a couple of weeks, you are almost at the end of April and then you go right into finals — so just hang in there,” Bowe said. “It’s gonna be a few more weeks of masks, a few more weeks of social distancing. Get your vaccine, enjoy the summer and then hopefully when we come back in the fall we will be able to lift some of those restrictions.”

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