Mercer University now is administering the COVID-19 vaccine to students, faculty and staff, with hundreds receiving their first dose as soon as it became available.
A team from Mercer Medicine administered the first vaccine on a Mercer campus on March 26 in Atlanta. Vaccines also have been given in Macon.
“I am grateful that I was able to get the shot as a member of the Mercer University community,” said Dr. Katherine Perrotta, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education in the Tift College of Education.
Dr. Perrotta, who received her shot in Atlanta, was the first person to receive the vaccine on a Mercer campus. She said she felt relieved afterward.
On March 25, all Georgians age 16 and older became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The University, which was approved to distribute vaccines in February, received limited supply of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines just as eligibility expanded. Both are mRNA vaccines.
Students, faculty and staff should monitor their email for correspondence from the Office of the Provost about appointment availability and how to sign up.
The Moderna vaccine is approved for use in ages 18 and up and requires two shots, 28 days apart. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for use in ages 16 and up and requires two shots, 21 days apart. Both appointments may be scheduled at the same time using the online scheduling tool.
“It is important for the whole Mercer community to get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19 illness in our students, faculty and staff, as well as our loved ones,” said Dr. Lynn Denny, director of student health at Mercer.
In addition to the Mercer locations, students, faculty and staff may choose to receive the vaccine from any clinic that offers it. A list of Macon and Atlanta sites is posted at mercer.edu/coronavirus.
The University does not currently have plans to require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated, said Larry Brumley, senior vice president for marketing communications and chief of staff.
As of April 5, more than 2.7 million people in Georgia, about 26% of the population, had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker.
Many people view the ability to get the vaccination as the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
“Like everyone, COVID impacted every facet of my professional and personal life,” Dr. Perrotta said. “I am grateful to get the vaccine so that we can start to return to some semblance of normalcy again.”
In a Feb. 25 email, President William D. Underwood commended Mercerians for their commitment to reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. He noted that positivity rates from weekly testing settled in below 2%, indicating low community transmission among the University population. Since early March the positivity rates have been 1% or lower.
“Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been a marathon for all of us, and we are not at the finish line yet, although it appears to be in sight,” Underwood said. “I encourage you to maintain vigilance in your masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, symptom monitoring and compliance when you are selected for mandatory surveillance (testing).”