Student Health Services processed as a COVID-19 vaccine provider

Hayley Simonson, Managing Editor

Last semester, students of UNF witnessed their traditional college experience change before their eyes as COVID-19 health and safety measures were enforced. It is now a new year, and a new season, yet the pandemic still follows us, and controls the climate of university life. 

The numbers of new infections have risen in the winter months and over the holiday season, which raises questions about how the UNF COVID-19 Task Force will tackle pressing issues about how to further contain the virus on campus. 

Dr. Frederick Beck is the Chief of Medical Staff at the university. He said that precautions are effectively unchanged since last semester, but that mass antigen testing took place Monday through Friday of the first week of the semester, during a time when residents were moving back on campus. The COVID Health Coordinator team performed 1,490 rapid antigen tests and identified 26 positive COVID results from antigen testing. 

While precautions have remained relatively the same, there has been a change to quarantine rules. The CDC updated the quarantine guidelines to allow for two alternate early release options from quarantine. One option is a release on day seven, if you have a PCR negative result on Day five or after, and have remained symptom-free. Second is a release on Day 10 if you have remained symptom-free. No test is required for the second option. 

Because science demonstrates a high number of conversions, while in quarantine between Day 7 and Day 10, the American College Health Association has recommended not allowing early release on Day 7. Dr. Valerie Morrison, Director of Student Health Services(SHS), said that UNF has adopted this recommendation and places students and faculty into a standard 10-day quarantine if they have had exposure to the virus.

Graphic courtesy of Nathan Turoff, Features Editor.

“Back to normal” may seem like a foreign concept to people at this point, and what will getting there even take?  Will a full return of in-person courses have to be after mass administration of the vaccine, and attainment of herd immunity, which is when a large percentage of the public has been infected or vaccinated. 

Dr. Beck said, “I foresee things gradually getting back to normal, but I personally think it may be Spring of 2022 before things are completely back to normal.”

Dr. Morrison agreed with Beck, and added, “It will be a gradual return to normal as it will take some time to get the number of people vaccinated that is required, in order to consider our population as having herd immunity.”

Dr. Beck and Dr. Morrison also said that they most likely see the vaccine being a public health requirement for future academic enrollment. 

Proof of vaccination status should open doors to travel or entry into other countries.  There’s no need to even state the relevance of that to study abroad programs,” said Dr. Beck.

Dr. Beck and Dr. Morrison anticipate a slow shift from testing to vaccination. SHS is a Vaccine for Adults (VFA) provider with the Florida Department of Health and has been processed as a COVID-19 vaccine provider.  There is currently no estimated date for delivery of the vaccine. However, they are completing plans so that when the vaccine is delivered, vaccinations will begin right away.

Dr. Morrison said that we must remain diligent with our processes, and urged students to download the Safe Ospreys app where a daily self-assessment can be taken if you are coming to campus. On top of that, it is important to continue with the routine of wearing a mask, socially distancing, and washing hands frequently

SHS provides excuse notes to students for the entire time they are in quarantine. However, these notes do not excuse participation in online course work.  If during quarantine, a student is too sick to participate in online classes and work, the student must discuss this with their professor. SHS will also provide a release note to students so they may return to campus and participate in on-campus activities.

“I personally feel the fall semester was a rousing success in containment and tracking of cases.  Many dedicated people spent a lot of time on these efforts and in comparison to other institutions, often with far greater resources. UNF did a truly exemplary job. There is confidence in the management of future cases, but ongoing cause for concern due to the inherent behavior of coronavirus,” said Dr. Beck.  

 “SHS and the COVID Health Coordinator teams worked diligently to identify, assess, and guide well over 700 students in the Fall in accordance with CDC guidelines.  Our staff is very confident in our processes and the success of our efforts.  We are very proud of the Osprey community for being proactive and responsible during this Pandemic, allowing UNF to maintain a low positivity rate,” said Dr. Morrison. 


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