Ian Macel ’24 (he/him)
On Thursday, April 1st, Davidson College partnered with Atrium Health to host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
From 9 a.m. through 4 p.m., students, staff, and community members were able to receive the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccination at the Belk Arena. According to Dr. Robert Lutz and Director of Media Relations Jay Pfiefer, Atrium administered 1,044 doses, 365 of which to students.
The school first informed students of the clinic on Friday, March 26th via email. Davidson instructed students to reserve a time slot for their shot and to create an account with Atrium Health. Although students could register in advance, the clinic was also flexible to walk-ins.
Pfiefer stated that of the 1,044 guests vaccinated, 525 made appointments ahead of time, and 519 signed up on the spot. No vaccinations were left over or thrown out, and Atrium acquired more doses during the clinic to accommodate high demand. Originally, Atrium had secured and planned to administer only 800 vaccinations.
Students described the process of getting vaccinated at the clinic as straightforward and streamlined.
Virginia Heiser ‘24 described a friendly atmosphere with music playing, free masks, and Advil available. Jacob Hertzinger ‘24 emphasized how smooth the process was, mentioning the minimal wait time to get his shot.
Sophomore Gracie McBride said she was slightly confused upon arrival due to a bigger crowd than she anticipated, but explained that she was easily guided through the process by workers at the clinic. “The wait was 2-3 minutes. It was very quick.”
Students were grateful to the school for the opportunity to get vaccinated.
“I was able to get the vaccine here a lot sooner than I would have back home,” said McBride, explaining that otherwise she likely wouldn’t have gotten vaccinated until late May.
Hertizinger agreed, stating that he didn’t know when else he would have been vaccinated and that “it’s just easier to do it here.”
Dr. Lutz emphasized the work of the Davidson COVID Core response team to make the clinic happen as soon as possible. Governor Roy Cooper announced on Thursday, March 25th that all college students would be eligible to receive the vaccine on March 31st.
The clinic happened as soon as college students became eligible, which Dr. Lutz described as “demonstrative of the work we [Davidson College and Atrium Health] put in ahead of time to tee up a rapid response in a shifting landscape.”
He continued, “It took a lot of work and coordination from a committed group of people across different organizations to make it happen.”
The school originally anticipated sponsoring a vaccination event on April 7th, the date Gov. Cooper previously stated college students would be eligible. However, following the announcement that all students would become eligible a week earlier, the college moved the clinic to the earliest possible date.
After the clinic ended, students began to feel the side effects from the J&J shot. Sohan Gade ‘23 was wearing four layers when interviewed the day after the clinic and reported feeling chills and exhaustion. McBride also had a fever and chills and felt unusually tired.
Hertzinger described his side effects by stating, “I felt like I had been hit by a truck.”
Despite the negative side effects, the school worked hard to make the vaccination a positive experience, bringing two free food trucks to the vaccination site. Students could get free cinnamon rolls from Cinn-Sane Cinnamon Rolls in the morning, and free ice cream from Kool Kat Ice Cream in the afternoon.
Mecklenburg County Public Health and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting a vaccination clinic for the Davidson community at the Baker Sports Complex on April 10th. No group has priority in sign ups for this clinic, and one must register in advance.
Pfiefer said of the clinics that “this is a crucial step in fighting the pandemic. The clinics on April 1st and, to a lesser degree, April 10th will make vaccines available to any students who would like to get vaccinated. As of Friday, 602 students had reported at least one dose of vaccine.”