Up to the challenge

The University of Utah is taking on the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. And we are going to need the help of every member of the campus community to make it a success.

The challenge was issued by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. It asks colleges and universities across the nation to encourage vaccination against COVID-19 by engaging members of the community in the vaccination program, organizing vaccination efforts and making the vaccine accessible to all.

“We need to get people vaccinated this summer, especially before many of us start returning to work on campus,” said Steven Lacey, Ph.D., chief of the Division of Public Health. “Getting vaccinated is how we more quickly return to a new normal.  It’s how we can look out for each other.”

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are becoming more important every day as new variants of the virus emerge. The vaccine not only protects you, but it also helps us reach herd immunity as a group. Until we get to that herd immunity point—also called community immunity—there is still a possibility of another wave of infections. That means going back to distancing, wearing masks and online classes. That’s something no one wants.

It could not be easier to get vaccinated at the University of Utah. Right now, the U is partnering with Community Nursing Services to hold regular vaccination events. These events are free to the public and provide both first and second doses of the vaccine to those who still need it. To make things a bit more fun treats like ice cream, cold drinks and T-shirts are being offered along with the shots.

“The next event is on June 29 at the football facility,” said Lacey. “You can make an appointment at coronavirus.utah.edu or just show up. This is all about getting as many people vaccinated as possible, and we are really hoping to see faculty and staff and their families that haven’t been vaccinated yet.”

There are still people contracting and dying from COVID-19. New data from University of Utah Health shows that since March 23, between 95% to 98% of new cases and hospitalizations are among those who haven’t been vaccinated. By getting your vaccine you are not only protecting yourself, but you are also protecting everyone else around you. Now is the time to roll up your sleeve and join the U in this challenge.

“From this point, essentially every additional death from COVID-19 is preventable,” said Lacey. “Please get vaccinated.”