Congresswoman Doris Matsui tours Sac State COVID-19 vaccination clinic

Sac State faculty and staff will begin to receive vaccinations Thursday

Gerardo Zavala

Robert J. Hansen

Congresswoman Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento said Congress is hoping to pass the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package by March 14 during her visit to Sacramento State’s vaccination facility Tuesday.

Unemployment benefits expire March 14. Matsui said that is why she hopes the COVID-19 relief package will pass by then.

Matsui said the bill is still in the budget committee and has not made it to the Senate yet.

“It is a package that will try to rescue the economy,” Matsui said. “We’re convinced that once we manage this virus, people in this country will know what they have to do.”

The vaccination facility at Sac State has vaccinated over 2,200 people in the last three weeks, according to Sac State President Robert Nelsen.

RELATED: Sac State administers its first vaccine doses at University Union clinic 

“To give someone an opportunity to beat this really feels good,” Nelsen said. “And we are averaging somewhere between 200-300 [vaccinations] a day.” 

Sac State was approved by Sacramento County to start vaccinating all faculty and staff starting Thursday, according to Nelsen.

“The county announced this afternoon that educators starting Thursday will be able to begin to be vaccinated,” Nelsen said. “It’s highschool teachers, K-12 but it’s also for college faculty and staff.”

Sac State will also be the site of a Dignity Health drive-up vaccination site for first line responders, which will be open on Saturdays beginning on March 6 according to Nelsen. 

“I think it’s great for the nurses to get to practice their skills and what they are doing is so important.”

— Congresswoman Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento

Sac State administrators will be meeting Wednesday to come up with the order that faculty will receive the COVID-19 vaccine in, but faculty teaching face-to-face classes and on-campus staff will be prioritized according to Gerri Smith, chair of the communications studies department, via an email to the COMS faculty. COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty will be by invite only, according to Smith. 

“They [faculty, child workers and educators] can be vaccinated here at our clinic, at Walgreens or anywhere, but they’ve opened up that group,” Nelsen said. 

Those who want to get a vaccination have to go onto Sacramento County’s website and can only come if they have made arrangements through the county, according to Nelsen.

Education and health workers in Phase 1B, which includes workers in home day cares, child care centers, preschools, elementary and secondary schools, community colleges, colleges, universities, and trade schools, are able to fill out a survey that will email them a registration information for COVID-19 vaccination clinics. 

Nelsen also explained Sac State’s decision to not require the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for students who return to in-person learning in fall 2021 next semester.

RELATED: Sac State will not require COVID-19 vaccine – students, faculty react

Nelsen said because the vaccine is under emergency use authorization, it cannot legally be mandated until it is no longer under emergency use and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Emergency use authorization allows medical measures such as vaccines to be used before they normally would be authorized during public health crises, according to the FDA.

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Congresswoman Doris Matsui toured Sacramento State’s vaccine facility and spoke about President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill Tuesday, Feb. 16. Matsui said the relief package is necessary in order to provide relief for those whose unemployment benefits are lapsing March 14. (Gerardo Zavala)

“These vaccines are under [emergency use authorization], and they’re not FDA approved officially,” Nelsen said. “Once they are, then you can mandate them, but by law we cannot mandate them [currently.]” 

However, Nelsen said he does recommend people take the vaccine.

“Do I want everybody to take it? Yes, I want everybody to take it,” Nelsen said.

Matsui also toured Sac State’s vaccination facility and said it is important for more vaccination facilities to open in order to distribute the vaccine to everyone.

“I think it’s great for the nurses to get to practice their skills and what they are doing is so important,” Matsui said.

Janet Dumonchelle, pharmacist-in-charge at Sac State’s Student Health Services pharmacy, showed Matsui around the vaccination clinic and said that the impact she and her staff are having on the community makes her proud of the student nurses at Sac State.

I always come home feeling so happy and feeling like I made a really big difference.

— Jeanelle Rosario, Sac State nursing student


“It was very exciting to know that we’re actually being recognized for the work that we do,” Dumonchelle said. “It makes us all feel very gratified to know that we are doing something good in trying to get this pandemic behind us.”

Jeanelle Rosario, Sac State nursing student, said she realized how important the work she does is to people. 

“I always come home feeling so happy and feeling like I made a really big difference,” Rosario said. “I really feel like I’m making a difference in these people’s lives.”

Sac State nursing student Sarah Kalenyuk said it was nerve-wracking to have so many important people come visit the facility, but said it felt like an honor that Matsui chose to visit Sac State’s clinic.

“It made us all feel super important to know that we are making a difference in the community, to know that this place is making a difference,” Kalenyuk said. “It felt nice.”

Additional reporting by Gerardo Zavala.