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Q & A: Missouri State University And The Coronavirus Vaccine

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Credit File Photo / KSMU
The first people in Missouri to get the coronavirus vaccine are front line health workers and residents of long-term care facilities, who are deemed high-risk for COVID-19.

In this episode of our monthly program, Engaging the Community, Missouri State University President Clif Smart and Director of University Safety David Hall discuss the coronavirus vaccine and the campus community. 

You can listen to the program by clicking the "Play" button below. 

Listen to the episode here.

Q:  Will faculty, staff and students be required to get the vaccine?

MSU President Clif Smart says he doesn’t anticipate that for several reasons, the first one being challenges surrounding timing.

“Secondarily our focus, just like this last year when we incentivize people to get the flu shot to help us manage through the winter—I would anticipate something like that. We would certainly widely communicate its availability. We will make it easy for particularly our employees in the next several months to sign up and get it. But I don't anticipate that we would mandate it, in part because [it’s] very challenging to enforce that,” Smart said.

“You know, we live in a state that values liberty, maybe above anything else. And I think it would be challenging for any public entity to mandate a vaccine, absent the legislature doing that,” Smart said.

Q:   What role, if any, will the campus medical facility, Magers Health and Wellness, play in inoculating members of the community?

MSU Director of University Safety David Hall says Magers Health and Wellness has experience in vaccinating the campus community, including through its annual flu vaccine services.

“So they've applied to be a vaccinator through the state of Missouri. We're waiting to hear back on that because that first phase is that Category 1A, health care facilities. You know, we're working to get their staff vaccinated through Mercy,” Hall said.

Then they would ideally be able to pick up the vaccinations as other categories of people become eligible for the vaccine on campus. He says the university hopes to hear back from the state quickly on that approval.

Q:    Do you know when staff and faculty members might see the vaccine at MSU?

“Well, that's the million dollar question right there,” Hall said. “So we're really hoping that by the first part of February or sometime in the February timeframe that we would start seeing it.”

“They've got Category 1A, which is health care and long term care facilities,” Hall said.

The next tier of people eligible for the vaccine includes first responders and then critical workers, including educators, Hall said.

“So that's really our hope. And our goal is we want to start seeing those vaccines being rolled out. And, you know, what it really comes down to is the supply and how quickly they can get those shipments into our community,” Hall said.

Q:   Have you heard feedback from the campus community on whether there is going to be a big “buy in” to the vaccine? Do you anticipate most people will get it?

“About 85 percent of our employees that are part of our health care plan took a flu shot,” said Smart.   “I would think we would have a great opportunity to be in that range. I know our entire administrative team would get it tomorrow if we could. I think, you know, among an educated populace that we have, I would be stunned if there's not overwhelming acceptance,” Smart said.

Hall said he, too, is confident the vast majority of members of the campus community will want to get the vaccine.

“I'm hearing the same thing. And really what I've been impressed with is, ‘Hey, I want to get it as soon as it's my turn to get it,” Hall said.

You can see Missouri State University’s COVID-19 Information Center by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 KSMU. To see more, visit KSMU.

As the Journalist-in-Residence at Missouri State University, Jennifer teaches undergraduate and graduate students, oversees a semester-long, team reporting project, and contributes weekly stories to KSMU Radio in the area of public affairs journalism.