Vaccine Distribution at Colgate


Maggie Aulman, Staff Writer

Colgate University began distributing vaccines at The Hall of The Presidents (HOP) on campus on March 25 after being authorized as a vaccination distribution center in January. 

Campus Physician Dr. Ellen Larson explained that after being authorized by the state to distribute vaccines, Colgate has been requesting vaccines from New York State every week, but to no avail.

“We have been fortunate enough that in the last two weeks the local hospital (Community Memorial Hospital) and the county Department of Health have shared their doses with us which has allowed us to start giving vaccines on campus.  Through that shared vaccine supply, Colgate has given approximately 350 doses of vaccine,” Larson said.

Junior Becca Overton is an emergency medical technician and the student coordinator for the Southern Madison County Volunteer Ambulance Corps (SOMAC) and has worked as a vaccinator in the clinic on campus.

“At the Colgate vaccination site, the process of getting a vaccine is pretty easy,” Overton said. “All you have to do is check if you are eligible, schedule an appointment and fill out an eligibility form and a consent form. Once you have done that you can come to the clinic in the [Hall of Presidents] either on a Thursday or Friday and get the vaccine,” Overton said.


“That shot is then documented on the now famous immunization card that you keep and is very important to keep for your records,” Larson added. “You will also need to bring that card back when you go for your second dose if you are getting a two-dose vaccine. That information is also documented on that paper consent form which the vaccine site keeps for their records and submitted to the NY state Immunization Information System.”

Maya Souviginier, a sophomore volunteer EMT with SOMAC and a vaccinator on campus, said the vaccination process also extends after shots are administered.

“When someone comes to receive a vaccine, they have three forms that need to be filled out and then they are screened before getting the vaccine. Then, there is a 15 minute waiting period after the shot to ensure there were no complications and during this time your appointment for the second dose is made,” Souvignier said.

Before receiving the vaccine, specific information must be submitted for Colgate’s and New York State’s vaccine administration records. The required forms can be filled out ahead of time and brought to the appointment or can be done at the testing site.

“[Those who receive the vaccine] will be asked to provide demographic information (name, date of birth, race, ethnicity, contact information etc). They need to fill out a form that states that you are confirming to the state that you are eligible for a vaccine. They need to fill out a paper consent for the vaccine which again includes that personal information as well as some questions about their medical history,” Larson said.   

Sophomore Mehnaz Tabassum, who recently received her vaccine from the clinic on campus, said the process went smoothly.

“I had a pretty easy time getting the vaccine. I’m usually very scared of needles but it wasn’t painful at all. It was actually a quick process and the person giving the shot was very supportive,” Tabassum said.

With respect to side effects, Larson explained that each individual reacts differently to the vaccine.

“Some people have no reaction to the vaccine, some people do experience pain at the shot sight or even more significant symptoms such as fatigue, muscle/joint pain, nausea/diarrhea and fevers/chills. The important thing to remember is that the reaction to the vaccine is less severe than the significant illness that we see with COVID-19 and [is] a reflection that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. If you developed stuffy/runny nose, cough or shortness of breath that is not a simple vaccine reaction and you should be evaluated to rule out COVID-19 or an allergic reaction,” Larson said. 

As of April 6, everyone over the age of 16 became eligible for the vaccine in New York state, and therefore, everyone on campus will be allowed to receive a vaccine, which should resolve any confusion on campus about eligibility, according to Larson.

“There has been a struggle with the question of whether all students were eligible prior to April 6 because of the guidance regarding congregate living. The CDC did define college campuses and dorms as congregate living in some discussions.  NY state defined congregate living as congregate care settings (think of nursing homes, inpatient care centers, group homes) and as a result by that definition college campuses were not included by NY state until this April 6 opening for all students,” Larson said.

Despite the optimism the vaccine clinics of the past two weeks have brought to campus, Colgate is still facing challenges in getting the number of vaccines it needs to vaccinate the campus community at large.

“We have been applying weekly (as often as we are allowed) for vaccines for nearly two months and have not received any vaccine through that process.” Larson said.  

As campus nears the end of the semester, Colgate may face added limitations in distributing vaccines on campus to those who qualify, as Moderna and Pfiser vaccines require those vaccinated to receive both shots in the series at the same location, Larson said.

“The second dose, given three to four weeks later, is going to start to cross into a timeline where students are no longer present on campus and may therefore not be eligible to start their vaccine series here. That would be less of a concern if the single dose [Johnson and Johnson] vaccine becomes available, but there has been a limited supply of that vaccine,” Larson said.

Tabassum reflected on the impact of receiving the vaccine, feeling a sense of relief. 

“My parents are also both in high risk groups for coronavirus and my dad actually got COVID last year, so it’s really important for me to be vaccinated before I get home, so I don’t (re-)infect them. I’m an international student who plans on going home and also studying abroad within the next few months, so the vaccine will make traveling much safer [and] easier. It feels surreal getting vaccinated, and I’m happy that students have the option of getting vaccinated at Colgate,” Tabassum said.