Aubree L Wagner
To tackle the ongoing presence of COVID-19, Grand Valley State University is partnering with Ottawa County Department of Public Health and Visit Healthcare to hold campus vaccination clinics. These clinics will take place across the Grand Rapids and Allendale campuses into the start of the fall term.
Prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year, GVSU announced that all students must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30. The clinics make vaccines easily accessible to students returning to campus.
According to an email from the Virus Action Team (VAT), the vaccine requirement, along with testing and masking indoors will make the GVSU campus as safe as possible.
The clinics will offer the Pfizer and the Johnson and Johnson vaccines, according to the Lakers Together website. The clinics began on Aug. 26 and will continue until Sept. 2. Students must register on the Lakers Together website in order to participate in these events.
Additionally, the CDC has recently recommended that immunocompromised individuals can receive an additional (third) dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine of Moderna or Pfizer. This additional dose is taken 28 days after the completion of the initial second dose in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. Individuals who this applies to can receive the third vaccination dose at the GVSU on-campus clinics.
Students and faculty who are unable to get the COVID-19 vaccines for religious or medical reasons are able to apply for an exemption online. Exemptions are valid for the timeframe noted in the exemption approval, not more than one year. GVSU may also request a shorter time period of exemption based upon new vaccines or updated clinical information, according to the GVSU Health Hub.
Individuals who are granted a vaccination exemption will be required to partake in weekly COVID-19 testing. If an individual’s request for an exemption is declined, they will be notified with additional information about the appeal process. If an appeal is not granted, individuals are then required to follow the vaccination policy or be subject to additional consequences which may include separation from the university, according to the GVSU Health Hub.
Along with the mandated vaccine, face coverings are also required in all buildings on the GVSU campus. This mask policy is implemented in order to protect the community as vaccination levels are self-reported, according to the Lakers Together website.
According to the VAT, the semester is beginning at Alert Level 2 as a precaution. Face coverings will continue to be required until GVSU states that the university is at alert level one. Until then masks may only be removed indoors in private offices of faculty and staff, in student housing units when only roommates are present, in dining areas, or briefly while eating and drinking.
“Our goal is to return to as normal a campus environment as possible, which includes relaxing or removing the masking requirements,” the VAT said via email. “According to public health experts, however, that should not be done until a high level of vaccination is achieved within the community.”
Students, staff, and faculty are required to self-report vaccination status on the GVSU self-assessment form in order for the university to establish the level of vaccination and to keep moving forward through COVID-19.