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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Vaccine card registration falls short of 80% goal

While striving for an 80% COVID-19 vaccination goal the University can only confirm around 70% of the campus as vaccinated. (Photo courtesy of Eli Pitcock)

Masking guidelines likely to remain for spring semester

Jill Smith
Staff Writer
[email protected]

The second vaccine incentive program ended on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and will award students, faculty and staff with a $2,500 scholarship or reward.

Executive Director of Branding and Marketing Shawn Touney said as of Nov. 18, the vaccine percentage for students, faculty and staff was 68.9 percent.

“Our expected vaccination rate for students is 62.1 percent, who have received at least one dose, based on available information,” Touney said. “We expect that many more faculty, staff and students are vaccinated with at least one dose, but have not uploaded their COVID-19 vaccination card. We encourage members of our campus community to upload their cards as soon as possible.”

In August, the Student Government Association announced a resolution to reach a vaccination rate of 80 percent by the end of the fall semester.

Student Government Association President Ian Puckett said while the goal was not met, he is still pleased with the percentage of those who submitted their vaccination cards.

“We were shooting for a total of 80 percent  for the campus this semester,” Puckett said. “I’m very proud of where we’re at with 68.9 percent because to my understanding, at the beginning of the semester, we were probably in the high 40s, so that’s a pretty big shift coming into this semester.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Don Robertson said there is no decision right now on removing the mask mandate for the spring semester.

“There has been some discussion, but it has really been more of a wait-and-see,” Robertson said.

Robertson said they would like to see the trend in cases decrease so the mask mandate can be removed, but at this time, they do not have enough information.

“I think it is safe to say we would like to be able, if the trends continue to decrease, to go away with them [mask mandates],” Robertson said. “I just don’t think we will get there.”

Puckett said it is important for administrators to decide when the best time to lift the mask mandate will be.

“We just want to make sure that whenever we do take the masks off that we don’t have to go back to masks,” Puckett said. “We want this to be a final one and done.”

Robertson said when deciding to lift the mandate, President Bob Jackson will meet with other administrators to decide the best course of action by looking at the COVID-19 trends, CDC regulations and what is coming out of the governor’s office guidelines.

“Obviously if we keep decreasing that puts us in a better position to make those decisions and it appears that this new variant is not really going to be that impactful,” Robertson said. “On the other hand, if we start seeing big increases, that will impact things also.”

Puckett said the majority of the decisions made with COVID-19 regulations come from the state.

“A lot of what we do is based on what the governor’s office is saying and what the legislator is saying,” Puckett said. “I know K-12 schools have moved to unmasking, but I’m not sure if we will do that; [however] it’s definitely possible.”

Robertson said there are a lot of unknowns when determining if the mask mandate should be lifted.

“With all this travel, is there going to be a spike because the cases have really stabilized?” Robertson said. “We also don’t know what the impact will be for [the omicron variant], so it’s kind of a wild card right now.”

Puckett said that while Murray State might be close to reaching herd immunity, Calloway County is not.

“While the campus might be at 80 percent, the community at large is not where it needs to be,” Puckett said. “You want to reach about 80 percent  in order to get real herd immunity benefits.”

Robertson said with the new variant and other unknown variables, this is the time for people to be vaccinated.

The University will continue to offer vaccine clinics this semester and into the spring.

The next vaccine clinic is Friday, Dec. 3, at Health Services from 8 a.m to noon.

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