By Danny Priest
In an email to the campus community on Friday, April 30, Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper shared some terrific news. Cooper’s email announced that Springfield College is partnering with CVS to offer students, faculty and staff the COVID-19 vaccine on campus and free of charge.
The vaccine clinic will be held on Wednesday, May 5 and Thursday, May 6 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Blake Arena.
Cooper wrote the following in her email about scheduling an appointment and obtaining the second dose of the vaccine with the semester ending before that time.
“The clinic will be fully staffed by CVS Health and all appointments will be made directly utilizing a scheduling platform provided by CVS. The Pfizer vaccine will be administered, which requires a second dose, about 21 days after the first, that can be scheduled at a CVS location near your home.”
Other information in the email highlighted that appointments must be made no later than May 4 at 11 a.m. Students, faculty and staff should arrive at Blake Arena no more than five minutes before their appointment time.
Masks should be worn at all times and after receiving the vaccine, individuals will be asked to wait in a designated waiting area for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes if the person has a previous history of reactions.
Cooper closed the email with a brief statement to the campus community:
“On behalf of the many individuals working to keep our community safe, we are excited that we are able to offer vaccinations on our campus and encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Springfield College is also the first school in Western, Mass. to have this type of vaccination clinic available on campus for students, faculty and staff to take advantage of at no charge.
A link for registering for a vaccine is available in an email from the Office of the President that was received on Friday, April 30.
Cooper stated that the clinic was made possible by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM). She had been reaching out since September to Massachusetts administration and organizations in charge of vaccine distribution, such as Baystate Health and the mayor of Springfield, to make Springfield College a site for vaccine distribution to students and the neighboring community.
AICUM reached out to Cooper last week and asked her if the College would be willing to partner with CVS to make vaccines available on campus, and she readily agreed. After asking Springfield students in a class she teaches within the Y studies program what days would be best for them to get vaccinated, Cooper decided with their answers in mind that the last day of classes would afford students a Reading Day for them to relax and recover from their shot (if needed).
The vaccine site will be a “pop-up” as Cooper stated, where the vaccination team will “take over” Blake Arena for two days with their own staff so as not to burden the Springfield College Health Center staff.
Cooper also said that there will be 1,000 vaccines available for this clinic, so if there should be any extras, she is looking to offer the additional vaccines to Springfield citizens who are within walking distance to the site.
The email sent out to Springfield College’s community this morning has all of the pre-requisite information required for students to know before getting their Pfizer shot, Cooper said.
Most importantly, this vaccine clinic will be the first step in making COVID-19 vaccines a requirement for every Springfield College student.
“I believe that next week we will make the announcement that [the vaccine] will be required for students,” stated Cooper in an interview.
“I feel more comfortable now that we are making it available, that we can require it. Requiring it without making it available is hard, because some people don’t have access to get it. It will probably be announced Monday or Tuesday next week that for our students, it will be required.
“We learned from this year that it was the residential component that made it more accessible for the virus to spread. Therefore, in being 93 percent residential, it’s going to be important that we keep our students safe. Religious exemptions, what we’re going to do with faculty and staff– all of that will follow… by the end of May we’ll be making announcements, but we will be requiring students to have the vaccine or to have the exemption. There will be a whole process in place for those that don’t feel comfortable, for religious reasons or other, for medical reasons, not getting the vaccination. We would love to come back 100 percent [vaccinated], or as close to 100 percent as we can in the fall,” she added.
For students hesitant to get their vaccine because of their youth or a mistrust of the modern medicine itself, Cooper advises looking through any and all information available from credible sources like the CDC and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ websites. Misinformation can be, and is, easily spread, and Cooper hopes that her students will make the right choice in protection of themselves and their community.
“This is a big win for Springfield College,” said Cooper.
“I felt really excited… to get this out is just a message to students, faculty, and staff, that we really do care about people’s safety. This opportunity is one where I think we can put our support behind our words, saying, ‘We care so much about you and want to do this.’ I think it’s a good win for us, and people can just walk over to Blake. It couldn’t be easier!” she finished.
For any and all information regarding the vaccine clinic, please refer to the email sent out at 12:17 p.m. on Friday, April 30, with subject-line “Vaccine Clinic at Springfield College – May 5 and May 6.”