Sac State administers its first vaccine doses at University Union clinic

University will email appointment invitations to eligible staff, faculty, students

Sara Nevis

Chris Wong, managing editor

Amid the downpour of rain, the Sacramento State community got its first rays of light for the end of the pandemic as the school began administering its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the University Union on Thursday.

The school started vaccinating nursing students and health care staff, who will then staff an on-campus vaccination site for Sacramento County, said Sac State President Robert Nelsen’s during his spring address.

In addition to nursing students and health care staff, Sac State will vaccinate first responders and, according to an FAQ on Sac State’s website, “other groups as defined by Sacramento County, such as individual members of the Sac State community 65 and older.”

Students that work with patients, such as those majoring in social work, public health and physical therapy students are also prioritized for vaccines, according to nursing associate professor Bridget Parsh.

The university could administer vaccines to the public depending on availability, but according to Sac State’s website, “no specifics have been determined.”

“I hope that more and more people will be able to access this vaccine to help us to deal with this pandemic,” said Francis Yuen, a professor of social work. 

Yeun, who is over 65 years old, got his first dose of the vaccine at the Thursday clinic. He said he misses interacting with his colleagues and students most.

Vaccinations are by appointment only. Student Affairs will send email invites to qualifying individuals to make vaccination appointments, according to the FAQ. The state and Sacramento County Public Health set established priority groups that Sac State says will determine who receives invitations.

Eligibility will eventually expand to Sac State students, faculty and staff. COVID-19 vaccinations are free, according to the FAQ.

The pandemic threatened to push back nursing student Lea Fong’s graduation date, a problem she said many students had to overcome by finishing their interrupted classes half a semester later. She said students should be getting into most or all of their required clinical classes.

Fong said she works at UC Davis Medical Center on a COVID-19 unit and received her first dose of the vaccine in December. She said she got her second dose early January and is now working at Sac State’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

“I enjoy giving back to the community and also getting more nursing skills into practice,” Fong said. “I hope to give as many vaccines as I possibly can, and I hope as many people come as we can get, because it’s really important to get vaccinated to get this pandemic to go away.”

The vaccination clinic administered shots in the Brown Bag Room of the Union, the dining area with microwaves next to Good Eats! and Buzz Burger. Nelsen said the same room was also used as a flu vaccination clinic.

The clinic could be expanded to Parking Structure III if needed, which the university touted as being able to accommodate six lanes of traffic for mass drive-thru vaccinations.

Patients lined up for their shots outside the Brown Bag Room and had their temperatures taken  as they checked in. Clinic staff asked patients screening questions before delivering the injections. 

After getting their shots, they had to wait 15 minutes sitting in socially-distanced chairs in the middle of the food court, surrounded by the shuttered doors of the Union food stalls. Clinic staff monitored the patients for symptoms and fielded their questions, sometimes chatting as they saw their fellow nursing colleagues. iPhone alarms occasionally sounded as patients’ 15-minute monitoring periods ended.

Story continues below.

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After vaccination: worry, relief and hope

“We have people with health issues, a lot of people who are very anxious about this shot,” said The WELL’s pharmacist-in-charge Janet Dumonchelle to the staff and students staffing the clinic before vaccinations began Thursday. 

Dumonchelle said that as a senior herself and someone with allergies, she was worried when she got the vaccine Jan. 22. 

Nursing student Elizabeth Tucker said she knew the vaccine was coming to Sac State and felt relieved to have gotten her shot Thursday.

78-year-old electrical and electronic engineering professor Warren Smith had questions about what comes after the second dose, wondering if he still has to wear a mask and if he would be likely to expose his wife to the coronavirus. He said he wished that he could have brought his wife to the vaccination clinic with him. 

Individuals who have received the two doses of the vaccine are recommended to still wear a mask according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention’s website.

Smith said that after receiving his invitation to get vaccinated, he was “stunned” and “delighted” because he thought he would have to wait several more months for the vaccine. He received his first dose Thursday.

“If we can get through this pandemic, my wife and I would love to go to a restaurant,” Smith said. “We haven’t done that for a year.”