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Vaccinations could herald a step back toward normal for AU students, staff

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Local colleges are expanding efforts to get back to normal. And hopefully, each thing gets us step closer to life before COVID.

At Augusta University, getting students and staff vaccinated is the key to a normal fall school year. This opportunity is something many students have waited almost a year to have.

“I’m so excited. I’m so happy I got my first dose,” AU junior undergrad Melissa Sunder said. “I think the vaccine will help normalize things a little bit and make things go back to normal.”

Normal, especially for first-year students who feel this school year hasn’t lived up to the college hype.

“I know our first years had a really tough time just being able to get to know each other and to be able to form those study groups and those bonds that they need to carry on past the workforce,” said Kristin Wilson, president of the graduate student government association.

And that’s why AU brought more than 250 vaccines to their students, staff, and faculty members with their first-ever student vaccine clinic.

“We want to get as many people vaccinated as possible so we can return to normal as quickly as possible,” Wilson said.

AU says they’ve resorted to doing virtual and 3D tours for incoming and current freshmen. They hope this vaccine will eliminate the need for that next school year.

“It’s a lot of perseverance over this past year that has gotten us to this point. I think this teaches us a lot about the importance of being flexible and being nimble that’s going to positions us very well moving forward,” Brooks Keel, president of AU, said.

AU says they’ve vaccinated more than 50,000 people in both Georgia and South Carolina and hope to target the younger generation with these clinics right before spring break.

“There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy amongst younger people and those that are in college-age are really important to focus on,” AU’s vaccination coordinator Dr. Joshua Wyche said.

Important to focus on this because AU says college-aged people tested the highest for COVID-19 over the past couple of months and they tend to mingle with more people.

Many hope this vaccine will allow them to safely be around more people and get that real college experience.

“A lot of us have just been missing social interactions,” Wilson said. “And I think that’ll be really important especially since college is about getting people together.”

As of right now, AU says they will not make this vaccine mandatory for anyone because it is listed as emergency use authorization and not officially approved by the FDA.

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