by, Caroline McCarthy, Jocelyn Visnov & Kelly Kennedy, Asst. Features Editor, Asst. Production Editor, & Asst. Social Media Editor
With the fall 2021 semester announced to be fully in-person, Manhattan College officials are urging all faculty, staff and students who are eligible to get the vaccine before the start of the semester.
In an email to the Manhattan College Community on March 19, President Brennan O’Donnell thanked the college’s students, faculty, and staff for their ongoing support and cooperation as the college navigated it’s way through the pandemic.
He then announced that the college plans to fully return to in-person instruction in a safe and secure environment during this fall 2021 semester.
“Medical experts are increasingly confident that the vaccine will be available to everyone who desires to receive it this summer,” O’Donnell wrote. “We also note that the CDC has recently started to adjust its guidance for fully vaccinated people, another good sign of the improving situation.”
Though the vaccine is not currently a requirement to return to campus in the fall, administration is encouraging vaccinations.
“Many in our community have already received the vaccine, and we strongly encourage all faculty, staff, and students to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible,” O’Donnell wrote.
According to the COVID-19 vaccine section of the New York Government website, 12 million New Yorkers are already eligible for the vaccination as of March 26 at 3:31pm.
The site reads: “Over 12 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the vaccine. Eligible groups include doctors, nurses and health care workers, people age 50 and over, first responders, teachers, public transit workers, grocery store workers, public safety workers and New Yorkers with certain comorbidities and underlying conditions.”
Though these qualifications better suit the faculty of Manhattan College, President Joe Biden echoed O’Donnell’s prediction in a social media post on March 11, where he claimed all adult Americans will be eligible to get the vaccine no later than May 1.
William McGrath, professor of religious studies, recently received both doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. McGrath qualified for the vaccine because he is an in-person instructor.
McGrath does not have fond memories of his vaccinations, as he experienced numerous side effects and had difficulty scheduling appointments.
“So from the very beginning, I just felt bad. And then, you know, my arm hurt,” McGrath said. “I just felt like a wounded animal. I got on the train and rode it home, went right to bed, watched a movie and just tried to chill, but it was like, I sort of started shaking, like I sort of had a fever.”
However, the vaccine has helped ease the major stress of contracting COVID compared to last fall.
“I think I feel a lot better than I did this past fall, let’s just put it that way. I thought this past fall was a huge gamble,” McGrath said.
Even with the side effects, McGrath claims that it was all worth it and urges others to get vaccinated as well. McGrath feels much safer to teach in-person classes now than he had before.
I would definitely encourage people to do it. You got to be brave, you know, it’s gonna suck. Bring a friend, bring somebody to support you, call your mom, call whatever, call somebody. But, you got to be brave. You gotta do it.”
He also hopes that an increase in vaccinations will bring back a sort of normalcy to campus, something students and faculty definitely miss.
“Well, my understanding is, it’s been hard times. And obviously, this is something you know, much more than I do. But my understanding is students feel isolated. I think [vaccinations] will open the door for group activities. And that’s what we all miss. That’s what I certainly miss,” McGrath said.
Heidi Laudien, a professor in the English department, is among the professors who were fully vaccinated at an off campus location.
“My experience getting the vaccine was relatively easy,” she wrote. “I got the Moderna vaccine at the end of January at a community center in the city (Wall Street area). I feel quite safe teaching in person classes at Manhattan College. Students, faculty and staff seem to be abiding by all of the safety protocols in place.”
Ireland Twiggs, a senior double majoring in Peace and Justice Studies and Religious Studies, is one of many students who has already been fully vaccinated. Twiggs shared her experience finding a vaccine appointment during a time of such high demand.
“I received my vaccine at Yankee Stadium at 3 a.m.” Twiggs said. “I actually follow Governor Cuomo on Twitter. I just kind of got lucky in that I was on Twitter one day, and he had posted that they were opening the 24/7 vaccine clinics at Yankee Stadium for Bronx residents, and that Friday or Thursday the Javits Center was opening up. So, the next day when the appointments went live, I logged on to so much which was the platform that they had appointments.”
Staying up-to-date with vaccine and appointment availability will help citizens better plan for receiving a vaccine of their own. Twiggs shares her advice for students who may be struggling to find an appointment.
“I would just say if you’re serious about a vaccine, just be diligent about looking and, you know, checking on all platforms,” she said.
As of March 28th, the college has implemented a vaccination portal that community members may use to upload their vaccination card.
To make a vaccine appointment in New York City visit NYC Vaccine Finder via vaccinefinder.nyc.gov or by calling 1-877-VAX-4NYC.
To make an appointment in New York State visit am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov or by calling 1-833-NYS- 4-VAX).