After the University System of Maryland chancellor recently announced staff and students who return to campuses in the fall must receive a vaccine, Jermale Bell quickly complied.
“I’m going to be on campus in the fall. I had no choice and I want to finish up school, so might as well [get vaccinated],” said the 20-year-old junior from Capitol Heights studying computer technology. “I wasn’t going to take it at first if it wasn’t mandatory because if I’m not sick, then there’s no point. I’m going into my senior year, so I got to do what I got to do.”
Jermale joined more than 100 people to receive the first of the two-shot Moderna vaccine Monday, April 26 at Bowie State University, Maryland’s oldest historically Black college and university, established in 1865.
Second shot appointments for Moderna have been slated exactly four weeks later on May 24 which poses a scheduling dilemma with classes ending on May 11. However, officials said the campus will be open to vaccinate those scheduled for their second dose.
Any student who resides out of state, or doesn’t plan to return to the campus, can schedule an appointment at a local vaccine provider and present the COVID-19 vaccination record card.
Dozens of colleges and universities nationwide will require students planning to return back to their respective campuses to receive the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech two-dose vaccines, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
On Friday, a panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that health officials can resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which had been “paused” for use on April 13 after reports of six cases “of a rare and severe type of blood clot,” according to the CDC.
The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration will add warnings about the rare but severe risk of blood clots.
The Maryland Department of Health announced Saturday, April 24 providers can resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Walk-up opportunities with no appointments necessary continue to increase at mass vaccination sites and other locations. And on social media sites, state lawmakers and members of Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration continue to update the public on same-day vaccination sites, health centers and other providers.
Ernest Carter, health officer for Prince George’s County, said any vaccine backed by science remains better than not taking the vaccine at all.
“These are exquisitely safe vaccines,” he said during a COVID-19 town hall at the Bowie State campus. “If you get vaccinated, you run the probability that you won’t get COVID. You’re going to get COVID in some part of your life if you don’t get vaccinated, that’s for sure.”
Austin Carver, 19, said he’s pleased to not only receive the Moderna vaccine but to also become the first person in his family to get vaccinated. Carver’s perspective changed when one of his friends tested positive for COVID-19 last year.
“If I’m going to travel and for my life to get back to normal, there are some sacrifices I will have to make,” said the sophomore from Baltimore majoring in broadcast journalism. “My girlfriend got fully vaccinated and she’s feeling good. I got my first one and I’m feeling good.”
After Casandra Williams graduated from high school last year in Havre de Grace in Harford County, she said her parents and siblings moved to Alabama. Along with her older brother, Williams wanted to remain in Maryland to pursue her goal of attending Bowie State.
“We can’t [attend classes] if we don’t get vaccinated. That’s why I got it,” said Casandra, 18, a freshman studying criminal justice. “It was easier than getting a flu shot. I’m feeling good.”\