UC Davis: COVID-19 Vaccine Challenge Accepted

chose to get vaccinated as soon as I was eligible to better protect myself and the people I care about, as well as to set an example for our campus community!” — Victoria Choi, English major, fourth year

“As an undergraduate student studying biological sciences, I study life science and its multiple disciplines daily and am confident in the vaccine.” — Prashant Naidu, biological sciences major, third year

“I chose to get vaccinated because I trust the science behind it and so that I can safely see my family and friends after a year of separation and social distancing.” — Naomi Maruoka, international relations major with a minor in public health, second year

These are testimonials by students who are playing a big role in our response to the federal government’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge, announced Wednesday (June 2).

“Vaccine Champion University” seal
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the Department of Education invited college and universities to sign on, and UC Davis was among the first to do so. The COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge is among several initiatives Biden has included in what he calls a National Month of Action, an all-of-America sprint to achieve a 70 percent vaccination rate (at least one shot) by the Fourth of July.

More than 200 colleges and universities across 43 states had signed on to the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge by the time of the launch.

Participating institutions commit to taking three key actions to help get their campus communities vaccinated: Engage every student, and every faculty and staff member; organize their college communities; and deliver vaccine access for all.

Meeting the challenge
Here is what the challenge asks colleges and universities to do, and how UC Davis has responded:

1. Engage every student, and every faculty and staff member — Make sure every member of your campus community knows they are eligible for a vaccine and has resources to find one.
Done, via a variety of communications, including Friday letters from Chancellor May and fall planning updates from Mary Croughan, provost and executive vice chancellor; UC Davis Life newsletters to students; the Campus Ready COVID-19 Vaccine Program webpage; and, of course, social media. The university’s vaccination push is accompanied by vaccine education.

2. Organize your college community — Lead the way by identifying champions for vaccine efforts across campus and implementing a plan to get as many members of your college community vaccinated as possible.
This is where students fit in, as vaccine champions by way of their testimonials; you can read all of them here. Further, the Student Affairs communications team uses social media to amplify each testimonial. Other students fit in as vaccinators at the Davis campus vaccine clinic, in their capacity as participants in the campus Fire Department’s student EMT and firefighter programs.

3. Deliver vaccine access for all — Meet your community where it is. Bring vaccines on-site and make it easy for students, staff and faculty to get vaccinated this summer.
Vaccines are as close as the Activities and Recreation Center, where the university opened the Davis campus vaccine clinic Feb. 1 and had distributed close to 18,000 doses as of yesterday (June 2) to the campus community and general public.

“It is incredibly rewarding to provide vaccines to UC Davis faculty, staff and students — and now even their kids (we vaccinate 12 and up),” said Margaret Trout, executive director of Student Health and Counseling Services, which operates the clinic.

Appointments are required and can be arranged through the state’s My Turn online system, or by calling My Turn, 833-422-4255.

UC Davis Health had administered 162,068 doses to its patients and the community (85,396 people in all, receiving one- or two-dose regimens, depending on the vaccine maker) as of this morning. Appointments can be arranged through My Turn.

A-frame sign pointing the way to the Davis campus vaccine clinic at the ARC.
Right this way to the Davis campus vaccine clinic in the ARC.
Proactive response
Cindy Schorzman, medical director at Student Health and Counseling Services, said: “It has been amazing to me that we have been able to provide this level of support to our students and campus community as one important part of our continuing proactive response to the pandemic.”

She expressed gratitude to the campus (and “especially our partners at the ARC”), Yolo County Public Health and UC Davis Health, for their support and continuing collaboration with the Davis campus vaccine clinic.

“Vaccination is the main tool that we have to meet our shared campus goal of trying to get back to business as close to normal as possible by this fall, and we are excited to serve in this role.”

‘Wherever they are’
COVID-19 vaccine promotion as Instgram post
Instagram post by Student Affairs, directing students to a video: “Your COVID-19 Vaccine Questions Answered.”
When the campus first opened its clinic, federal regulations limited the shots to ages 18 and up. Then, when the government announced it would lower the minimum age to 16, effective April 15, Student Affairs started outreach to the student population, using text messages, Instagram stories and Facebook posts, among other communications tools.

“It is wonderful to see UC Davis students in the vaccine clinic and let them know how excited we are to welcome them back in the fall,” said Trout, from Student Health and Counseling Services.

Of course, not all students are living in the Davis area during this time of remote instruction, but Trout said she is thankful other universities and colleges are stepping up — through the White House challenge — “to vaccinate folks wherever they are.”

“We have vaccinated UC Santa Cruz students who are in the Davis area, studying remotely, and I’m sure they have done the same for our Aggies,” she said.

Chancellor Gary S. May rolls up his T-shirt sleeve, shows bandage over vaccination.
Chancellor May, after his first vaccination. (Wayne Tilcock/UC Davis)
Another champion
Chancellor Gary S. May is a vaccine champion, too, announcing in his Jan. 4 welcome letter at the start of winter quarter, that he had received his first vaccination. UC Davis Health administered May’s shot toward the end of December, shortly after the health system received its first vaccine shipments. The chancellor took his turn only after the vaccine had been offered to frontline and other essential workers.

“Please understand that I accepted the opportunity to get vaccinated because of the potential positive impact I might have to encourage other people of color to do the same,” the chancellor wrote.

“As the vaccinations continue to roll out, I encourage you and everyone who is part of the university to get vaccinated to protect the health and well-being of our shared community.”

Juliana Martinez headshot
I chose to get vaccinated because …
… I want to play my part in keeping our communities safe. I also want to be able to spend time with my family and encourage others to trust science. — Juliana Martinez, political science major, second year

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