No Testing? No Quarantine? Normal Fall? Why Should You Get Vaccinated Now?
Baylor Health Services has COVID-19 vaccination appointments available this week, including the one-shot option, and will continue to offer vaccines each week throughout the summer for students, faculty and staff as vaccine availability continues to increase. Why should you get vaccinated, and what difference will it make for you and your family and friends and Baylor University in the fall?
We put some of the most frequently asked COVID-19 vaccination questions to Dr. Sharra Hynes, associate vice president for Student Life; Dr. Sharon Stern, medical director of Baylor Health Center; and Dr. Ben Ryan, clinical associate professor of environmental sciences focusing on public health. They also are members of the Baylor Health Management Team, which is responsible for continually assessing community COVID-19 trends to make recommendations to University Administration about the health and safety of campus.
Q: Why should I get vaccinated?
Dr. Ryan: We all yearn for a return to normal and to reach herd immunity. Our campus community can accelerate our path to normal by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. There are many compelling reasons to go ahead and get vaccinated now and not waiting:
- Protection from COVID for you, your family and friends
- No more weekly testing
- No quarantine if exposed
- Help allow a normal fall with more in-person events and traditions
- Travel without the need to self-quarantine (in the United States)
- Ability to meet with others who have been vaccinated WITHOUT masks
- Protection from severe illness and hospitalization
Q: Why is it important to report your vaccination to Baylor?
Dr. Hynes: We all want a full, normal fall experience, and the extent to which the University can provide this is directly dependent on the information we have regarding vaccination of the Baylor campus community over the next few months.
Q: Does the Health Center have vaccines available for students, faculty and staff?
Dr. Stern: Yes. Baylor Health Services is an authorized vaccine provider and offers COVID-19 vaccination appointments for students, faculty and staff. There are currently appointments available, and they can be scheduled online. Our vaccine clinic is located in the McLane SLC gym, so the process of getting a vaccine is convenient and quick. We will continue to have appointments throughout the summer as well.
Q: What do our current vaccine numbers tell us?
Dr. Ryan: We’re encouraged by the increase in reported vaccines that we’ve seen over the past seven days, which tell us more students, faculty and staff are reporting their full vaccination. We need to make significantly more progress in our reported vaccination numbers, however, if we want to experience a more normal fall on campus.
Q: Can I get vaccinated outside of Waco? If I get the first dose of Moderna or Pfizer at the Health Center but go home for the summer, can I get the second dose in my community?Dr. Stern: Yes. If you receive a first dose in Waco, the safest and best thing to do is to get your second dose from the same location. However, you can schedule your second dose in your community, dependent upon vaccine availability in that area. If you need guidance on this process, call the Vaccine Hotline at 254-710-2900.
The most important thing is to get fully vaccinated – here, or wherever you spend your summer – and report your vaccine to the Health Center as soon as possible so the University can continue to plan for a return to a more normal fall. That’s what we all want, and vaccination will help us get there.
Q: If I’m vaccinated outside of Waco, should I still report it?
Dr. Ryan: Yes. All students, faculty and staff should report their vaccine to the University Health Center so that we have the most accurate data possible when making decisions about activities and COVID-19 mitigation efforts for the fall. Reporting to Baylor is HIPAA compliant and confidentially filed with Baylor Health Services. You can access the reporting form at baylor.edu/vaccine.
Q: Am I required to get a vaccine?
Dr. Hynes: Although Baylor University will not require a COVID-19 vaccination for students, faculty and staff for the fall semester, Baylor's medical team strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Those who are vaccinated will not only have protection from the virus, but will have the least amount of disruption to their Baylor experience. For example, individuals who are vaccinated will not have to quarantine even if they are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.