Slippery Rock University partnered with Giant Eagle Pharmacy in Slippery Rock to host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Russell Wright Alumni House Wednesday to administer the first dose of the vaccine.
SRU is hosting a second day of the clinic on Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to give out the remaining 160 first doses of the vaccine.
The pharmacy is providing the university with 320 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine total, administering roughly 160 doses per day of the clinic. As of Wednesday, 140 students, nine staff and two faculty were scheduled to receive the vaccine.
This is the first clinic that the Slippery Rock Giant Eagle has hosted for the COVID-19 vaccine. Students and faculty will not be charged for the vaccine.
The university implemented social distancing by having carpet squares on the ground to keep students six feet apart from one another.
Angela Santis, the manager of the Giant Eagle Pharmacy in Slippery Rock, said they could return in the fall to distribute more vaccinations.
“As availability [of the vaccine] increased, there are more doses and we can get them to students,” Santis said.
Santis said the Giant Eagle Pharmacy has given COVID-19 vaccines to students already in their own facility as well.
Students must bring their insurance card to the clinic to get vaccinated. But, if students, faculty or staff don’t have health insurance, Benkeser said they will not be turned away.
“The pharmacy is able to get an administration fee for administering the shot from insurance [companies], so there’s no cost to students,” Benkeser said.
The university decided to host the COVID-19 vaccine clinic to give students the opportunity to get vaccinated before leaving campus, Benkeser said, since it was announced that every adults in the United States was eligible to be vaccinated by April 19 and April 13 for adults in Pennsylvania.
“You have to strike while the iron is hot,” Benkeser said. “[The vaccine distribution] counts on you getting dose two wherever you got dose one.”
Benkeser said students and faculty should schedule in advance, but walk-ins are welcome for Friday.
The two-day clinic is part of a two-shot process. Students and faculty can return to campus on May 19 and 21 to receive their second dose. Students can either make their appointment at the clinic when they receive their first dose or can be put on a list to be contacted to get the second dose through another Giant Eagle.
Just like with all places that administer the vaccine, students and faculty are required to sit and wait 15 minutes to make sure they don’t have a negative reaction.
“You spend more time sitting in the chair waiting than you do in all the steps that come before it,” Benkeser said.
If returning to campus to get the second dose is not possible, the Giant Eagle Pharmacy in Slippery Rock can work within the system to make sure that a student can get their second dose at a local, participating Giant Eagle Pharmacy near where they live.
“The trick to setting up clinics like this is scheduling that second dose,” Benkeser said. “Even if students leave the area and cannot return to Slippery Rock for it, Giant Eagle can schedule you at one of their other facilities.”
All students who are fully vaccinated by the fall semester will receive $50 in flex dollars to use at any on campus dining location. Benkeser said the university decided to reward students with flex dollars to encourage vaccination and to motivate students to upload their immunization records to the SRU Health Portal.
“If 80% of our students are vaccinated, but only 20% uploaded [the record], that’s a problem,” Benkeser said, “because then we don’t know. So, the way we make our decisions, we use science as our guide. Watching and monitoring our rate of vaccination among our students is going to guide and shape what we do in the fall.”
According to Benkeser, staff and faculty are offered leave time aside from personal, sick or vacation time to get vaccinated.
Lyndsey Dundon, a senior social work major who works at Starbucks, said she has been trying to get vaccinated but didn’t fall under the previous phases provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even though she works in the food industry.
After receiving her first shot, Dundon said she felt fine, but was a little worried as her father’s arm was really sore when he got his.
“The process was super easy and couldn’t go easier,” Dundon said. “I’m scared of needles so I expected it to be more painful.”
In an email to SRU stakeholders, Benkeser said faculty members are asked to be flexible with verified student class absences due to being vaccinated on Wednesday and Friday.
SRU encourages the vaccination of students and faculty in order to go back to a relatively normal college experience, Benkeser said.
“If we achieve a substantial vaccination rate, the University’s return to normal in the fall will be much easier to achieve, which will allow our community to continue to thrive,” Benkeser said in the email.