By Patrick Webb ’21
Goshen College is one of seven Indiana colleges participating in the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. The initiative led by the White House and United States Department of Education invites colleges and universities to join in efforts to end the COVID-19 Pandemic by pledging and committing to taking action to get their college communities vaccinated.
“We are pleased to join the White House COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge because it gives us an opportunity to receive educational resources for our continued work in this pandemic,” said Gilberto Perez Jr., vice president for student life and chair of the college’s Pandemic Task Force. “Learning what other colleges and universities continue to face and how they address their challenges will help us create stronger support systems for our students.”
The challenge galvanizes colleges to reach young people where they are, with information they can use, through trusted messengers and provide them opportunities and access to vaccination. Hundreds of colleges and universities across all 50 states and Washington D.C., have taken the pledge.
Participating colleges commit to taking three key actions to help get their campus communities vaccinated: engaging every student, faculty, and staff member; organizing their college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all.
“We must all work together to beat this pandemic and put the focus back on students’ educational careers that will put them on the path to success,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. While a significant portion of older generations have received the shot, younger Americans lag behind.
In Indiana, unvaccinated Hoosiers make up 99.3% of COVID-19 cases. And new variants such as Delta are more contagious and severe, increasing the likelihood of young people getting sick. The odds of getting sick when vaccinated are 1 in 50,394 versus 1 in 525 if unvaccinated.
“Getting a vaccine helps protect others as well, particularly those who are unable to get the vaccine (age, specific health risks),” said the Goshen College Pandemic Task Force in a statement. “And vaccination helps reduce transmission and the ongoing evolution of the virus, which is critical for the larger common good.”
At the end of the 2020-21 school year 57% of students were fully vaccinated. GC provided an on-campus vaccination clinic in the spring 2021 semester.
For the 2021-22 fall semester, COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all students enrolling in Fall 2021 once a vaccine has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Within three weeks of FDA approval of a vaccine, unvaccinated students will be required to receive their first shot and then to complete all required doses, or to submit documentation of their exemption.
International students who are vaccinated in their home countries will also meet the vaccination requirements. If the vaccine is not approved in the United States, Goshen Colleges encourages international students to consult with their partner Goshen Family Physicians about whether or not to receive another vaccination when you arrive that would offer you greater protection. GC will have information about how to receive a vaccination for free when international students return to campus.
For more information about Goshen College’s response to the pandemic, plans for Fall 2021 and resources, visit goshen.edu/coronavirus.
Indiana residents who wish to get vaccinated or find more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, can go to www.coronavirus.in.gov/vaccine.