Shepherd University reported on Sept. 28 that over half of its employees and students have received the Covid-19 vaccine. This comes at a time where West Virginia is facing an all-time high in covid related hospitalizations, and a huge drop in adult vaccination percentage.
Early in October, the state reported over fourteen thousand active cases of the virus, and the CDC reported that only 48% off adults in the state were fully vaccinated. “Our hospitals are still overwhelmingly inundated with cases of people that are not vaccinated” state governor Jim Justice stated during a press conference earlier this month.
Governor Justice has been trying to get people vaccinated since February, when the state had record breaking vaccine rollout. In the meantime, Justice has started “Do it for Babydog,” a sweepstakes for people in West Virgnia who get the Covid-19 vaccine. Prizes include money, cars, sporting event tickets, and much more. Some sites, including CNN, think that the governor will do anything besides roll out a mandate to get people vaccinated.
It seems that Shepherd University’s students and employees have gotten the governor’s message.
Recently the school reported that 87% of their employees and 67% of the student body are fully vaccinated. Those numbers are up 8% and 10% respectively from last month.
While over half the student body has the vaccine, some of them still have worries. Bryce Frye, a first year at Shepherd, took a gap year to make sure the vaccine was available before he set foot on campus. “I have two daughters who aren’t able to get the vaccine, and I don’t want to expose them to the virus,” said Frye.
Sharice Hawthrone, a sophomore attending Shepherd, is concerned about possible variant outbreaks. “The people who aren’t getting vaccinated are spreading it and causing more cases to happen,” Hawthorne said during an interview. “These new variants that are spreading because of unvaccinated people could break through the vaccines we already have.” While the CDC reports that the current vaccines protect against the Delta variant of Covid, they don’t know how effective it will be against emerging variants.
Other students think politics over the vaccine are a problem. “People are being very ignorant about it and are making it political,” says Holly McAndrew, a junior at Shepherd. “I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on, you shouldn’t be getting sick because you won’t get the vaccine.”
The correlation between states that voted red in the last election and low vaccination rates has been growing over the past couple of months, and West Virginia is one of those states.
Everyone interviewed for this article wanted to leave the same message for the readers: get vaccinated. Only nine cases of Covid-19 have been reported active at Shepherd as of last Friday, and all of them are from students. The number of active cases at the school has stayed under 20 for a month, and with the current vaccine percentage the school holds, it might stay that way.
If you or anyone you know are looking to get vaccinated, Shepherdstown’s local Walgreens on Martinsburg pike has walk in appointments.