A large contingency of York College faculty and staff stepped up to receive COVID-19 vaccinations this morning as campus is set to begin its ten-day spring break. Four Corners Health Department administered the first shot of the Moderna vaccine in the Campbell Center for any YC employee who had indicated an interest in getting inoculated.

“We sent our faculty and staff a couple of surveys earlier in the year to see who would like to receive the vaccination,” said Todd Sheldon, Vice-President for Finance and Operations. “The initial numbers lined up with what Four Corners Health Department would have available so we had the green light to proceed.”

PictureTonya Carr gives an approving smile through her mask.

Employees were able to sign up for a five minute time slot on Friday morning, half of which were spoken for in the first ten minutes of it being offered. These vaccinations were in addition to the seventeen administered last week to YC employees deemed “at-risk” by the college.

One of the first to register for today’s appointments was Dr. Erin DeHart, Associate Professor of Education and Chair of the Division of Professional Studies. “With the amount of one-on-one interactions students require, I am grateful for the opportunity to begin the process,” said DeHart.

According to the CDC, evidence from clinical trials showed the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses (28 – 42 days apart) and who had no evidence of being previously infected. The second dose for YC employees will likely be given the first or second week of April.

John I. Baker III, Associate Professor of Communication and ​Chair of the Department of Communication and Speech, was glad to get the first dose underway. “I am appreciative that as a member of the York College faculty that I get the opportunity to receive the COVID vaccination,” said Baker. “Receiving the shot allows me to play a small part in slowing the spread and hopefully eventually end the virus.”  

While a return to normal campus life may depend on the COVID-19 vaccine, seven weeks remaining in the semester makes it unlikely that students will have the opportunity to get the Moderna vaccine before they leave for the summer. It remains to be seen if the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, which has demonstrated 85 percent effectiveness, will be made available to the students. Whether they will choose to get the vaccine is another question as studies reveal young people aged 18-29 are among those least likely to say they would get the shot if it were available to them today.

During the spring semester, cases have been rare and the campus remains at Level One with only a few students requiring assistance in isolation or quarantine. The latest COVID update that was posted online included this encouragement: “Panthers, thank you for your persistence with campus guidelines and especially your continued patience with face coverings. Thank you for putting others first.”

York's citywide mask mandate expired earlier this week, but at this time, York College will continue the safety procedures and policies which have been in place since the beginning of the fall semester. 

As spring break begins, the majority of students head home after classes today with a few athletics teams traveling as well. In anticipation of their return, President Sam Smith sent out this challenge to the York College family, “As a community with over 400 students living on campus we must be mindful of the steps that are most likely to help us finish out the spring semester on campus.  However, we constantly evaluate our policies and will update our campus if we decide it is in the best interest of our campus to relax policies on campus. Keep up the good work and stay focused!”