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Kent State, University of Akron students line up to get COVID vaccine, many for peace of mind

Akron Beacon Journal logo Akron Beacon Journal 4/9/2021 Kaitlyn McGarvey, Record-Courier
a group of people sitting in chairs: Kent State University held a vaccination clinic on campus at the Ice Arena for students. Cole Khas, a Kent State senior, gets his vaccine. © Lisa Scalfaro Kent State University held a vaccination clinic on campus at the Ice Arena for students. Cole Khas, a Kent State senior, gets his vaccine.

For Kent State student Angela Bennett, the COVID-19 vaccine is her ticket to travel with less worry.

Bennett was among hundreds of students who showed up Thursday at the Kent State Ice Arena for the first of four shot clinics planned at the university through next week.

The clinics are part of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's push to get college students statewide vaccinated before they return home.

More: University of Akron COVID-19 vaccination clinics for students start Thursday

Bennett, a graduate student who is studying user experience design, said she wanted a COVID-19 vaccine for peace of mind as she gets ready to travel soon. 

“It stung a little bit, but it doesn't really hurt," Bennett said. "It's just like any shot or vaccine you typically get. I get the flu shot every year and its pretty much the same.” 

About 700 doses were expected to be administered on Thursday.

Kent State spokesman Eric Mansfield said there was a strong push to administer the vaccines before the university’s spring break begins next week.

By next week, when the four-day COVID -19 shot clinic at Kent State University is over, more than 1,200 students are expected to have received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

University of Akron clinic distributes about 600 shots in first day

University of Akron also launched its vaccine clinic for students on Thursday, giving out about 600 shots. The clinic expects to administer another 500 or so Friday, spokeswoman Cristine Boyd said. 

The state so far has allocated 3,500 doses to Akron students, although with the age limit now lowered to include all adults, they also could receive one of the three vaccines available off campus.

Akron's clinic also will be open for three days next week, on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. More days could be added as needed, Boyd said, or if the university receives another round of doses. 

More: Ohio trending in wrong direction to lift COVID-19 restrictions

At Kent State, Bennett said the process was fairly simple.

She signed up by email, arrived for her appointment by 8:30 a.m. and was done by 8:41 a.m. 

According to Mansfield, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine will be the only one administered to students. Because it only requires one dose, there is no need for a follow-up clinic. The clinics will continue on Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

More: Thousands get COVID-19 vaccination at Kent State in first two weeks; Portage remains red

"The distribution of the vaccine is determined by the state," said Julie Volcheck, Kent State's assistant vice president of student affairs. "Kent State can't just go buy COVID vaccine like we do flu vaccine. We haven't received any other vaccine yet, except this program.” 

Mark Christian, a graduate student studying business administration, said he decided to get the vaccine just to be on the safe side. He figured the single dose would be better than waiting to get a second shot, as required with the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Kent State a 'hot spot' for COVID-19 transmission

In an email to students sent on Monday, Lamar R. Hylton, vice president of Student Affairs, said the number of weekly positive cases on campus have been increasing, though it's still low compared to the fall semester.

Hylton said The Ohio Department of Health notes the Kent Campus as a hot spot of increased transmission.

"We are also seeing a worrisome trend as at least one of the new, more communicable variants of the COVID-19 virus is now present in Northeast Ohio, and these variants appear to impact young people more than previous variants," the email read.

More: Plans in flux, but in-person proms, graduations in the works

After receiving the vaccine, students got to show off their school pride with bandages in Kent State colors of blue and gold. Stickers, shirts and masks with the university logo were also available. Flash, the university's mascot, also made an appearance at the clinic, along with President Todd Diacon. Cards distributed by the Wick Poetry Center also encouraged students to share poems about their vaccination experience on www.globalvaccinepoem.com.

More: Dear COVID-19 Vaccine: You're invited to pen a stanza for Global Vaccine Poem

a close up of a shoe: Kent State bandages are used during a shot clinic for students Thursday the Kent State Ice Arena. © Lisa Scalfaro Kent State bandages are used during a shot clinic for students Thursday the Kent State Ice Arena.

Any student who attends Kent State or any of its branch campuses campus is eligible for clinic, Mansfield said. Faculty currently enrolled in courses are included as well. 

More: New ionization units keep air clean in Kent buildings

Who's eligible for a vaccine at Kent State shot clinics

University staff can get vaccinated at the university’s field house on Tuesdays. Those clinics are facilitated by the Portage County Combined General Health District.

Students will learn remotely following the end of spring break on April 19, Mansfield said. On-campus residence halls will be empty for the remainder of the current semester

"There's only three weeks left after spring break," Mansfield said. "So that way, students can travel and they don't have to worry about coming back and going through issues here."

Students can register at www.uhs.kent.edu or by calling 330-672-2525. Distribution on the Kent campus will be held at the Kent State Ice Arena, 650 Loop Road.

Beacon Journal reporter Jennifer Pignolet contributed to this report.  Reporter Kaitlyn McGarvey can be reached at kmcgarvey@recordpub.com or on Twitter at @kaitlynmcg_rc.

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Kent State, University of Akron students line up to get COVID vaccine, many for peace of mind

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