‘Berg students flock to college vaccination clinic

Marti the Mule welcomes students to the Moderna vaccine clinic held on April 16. Photo courtesy of @muhlenbergcollege on Instagram.

With the knowledge that Pennsylvania would be opening up vaccine eligibility to all residents on April 16, Muhlenberg College began working towards vaccinating its student body. On that same day, an on-campus clinic distributed the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to approximately 150 students. 

Despite the efficient day-of experience, the logistics behind the operation did not run as smoothly as expected. Vice President of Human Resources and the clinic’s organizer, Jill Walsh, said, “We had hoped to offer a number of J&J [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine clinics on campus, because that vaccine only requires a single dose… one and done.” 

However, just three days before the scheduled immunization clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration paused the distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s formulation due to a rare blood clotting side effect. 

Consequently, the College had to change its plans. Walsh expressed relief, saying, “Fortunately, Rite Aid had a supply of the Moderna vaccine so we were able to quickly pivot and still hold the on-campus vaccine clinic.” Students who received their inoculation through this clinic are scheduled to get their second dose on May 14, just before final exam week. 

“The vaccine was quick and I didn’t even bleed!” 

Due to the necessary interment period between the first and second Moderna doses, it is impossible for Muhlenberg to host any more clinics administering it. Yet, Walsh noted that “If [the Johnson & Johnson vaccine] is re-released safely, that would potentially increase our ability to vaccinate more students before the end of the semester.” 

On April 23, the pause on the American pharmaceutical company’s vaccine was lifted. As a result, the possibility of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic opening up on campus remains. 

The College encouraged its students to participate in the free vaccination by touting the benefits of the inoculation. They stated that vaccinated people can visit others who are vaccinated indoors without a mask during the summer. Domestic and international travel without a quarantine period is allowed in some countries for those who have been vaccinated. They also stated that the vaccine can offer protection for those in your life who are unable to obtain a shot. 

Vaccinated student Piper Woods ‘23, expressed satisfaction with her experience, saying, “The vaccine was quick and I didn’t even bleed!” 

She also noted the organized and friendly nature of the clinic. “We had to wait for 15 minutes to make sure there were no immediate side effects…Once that was done, I got up, was given a sticker and some candy and that was it!” 

Muhlenberg’s campus was not the only place students could get vaccinated. In a partnership with the Allentown Health Bureau, more than 100 students received the first dose of the Moderna shot at the Allentown Fairgrounds on April 20, 21 and 22. Walsh stated, “Those who participate will have their second dose just prior to the conclusion of the semester.”

“For the fall semester, we want the experience to be more engaging and less restrictive to every extent possible for our community.”

 As of Monday, new appointments at the Allentown Fairgrounds have opened up. They are scheduled for April 27, 28 and 30, and are open to Muhlenberg students without an appointment. These sessions are encouraged for those living on campus over the summer. 

In a statement issued by President Kathleen Harring on April 28, it was announced that all Muhlenberg students will be required to have the vaccine for the 2021-2022 academic year. Harring also noted that the administration is highly encouraging faculty and staff to receive their doses as well. She bolstered the College’s decision saying, “For the fall semester, we want the experience to be more engaging and less restrictive to every extent possible for our community.” However, Muhlenberg will make exceptions for medical or religious reasons. 

Katie is a Media & Communication and Political Science double major in the class of 2024. When she's not working on the paper you can find her blasting Taylor Swift, reading Jane Austen, or crying over Little Women (2019).


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