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CMHD hosts COVID-19 vaccine clinic on campus


A CMDHD employee administers the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Cassie Mistrzak's arm Feb. 17 in Finch Fieldhouse.

Special needs educator Cassie Mistrzak was one of many Isabella County residents receiving their second COVID-19 vaccine on Central Michigan University's campus. 

To Mistrzak, getting the vaccine is like giving her students another layer of protection from COVID-19. Now, her students can get their education without worrying about it.

"If this is a way that we can make school safe for kids to go to and if we can kind of return to a little bit of normalcy then, I'm happy to do my part," Mistrzak said.

CMU and the Central Michigan District Health Department partnered to host a vaccine clinic on campus. The clinic is being held in Finch Fieldhouse all day on Feb. 17 and 18 and will be administering both first and second doses of the vaccines by appointment only. 

CMU chose to offer Finch Fieldhouse as the location for the two-day event because of the building's size. Melissa DeRoche, emergency preparedness coordinator and public information officer for CMDHD, said Finch Fieldhouse gave them the ability to vaccinate more people.

"We wanted to have a location that was easily accessible to people in all ways," DeRoche said. "We also wanted to make sure it was a location that if we so chose to, we could keep coming back to time after time and it wouldn't be a location that we could only use once and then we'd have to keep finding new locations."

Kim Wagester, CMU's assistant controller for financial services, said the health department is anticipating more doses to vaccinate more people. She said Finch Fieldhouse provides ample space for as many people to be vaccinated as possible.

On Feb. 17, those primarily receiving the vaccine were educators and people more susceptible to COVID-19.

Daycare worker Brooke Jakiemiec said she wanted to get the vaccine to keep the kids she works with safe, stop COVID-19 from spreading and not be susceptible to contracting the virus. Jakiemiec said receiving the vaccine is not just about protecting yourself, it's about protecting the community.

"I think it's better than knowing you might be the reason that someone or someone's loved one got the virus and passed away," she said.

One member of the protected age group receiving the vaccine was Sharon Picket. She received her first dose of the vaccine on Feb. 17 and said she had no hesitancy about it as she had done her own precautionary research.

"I had read up on that a lot and sought advice from medical people that I know, so I did not have any reservations at all," Picket said.

Retired nurse Susan King said she was both relieved and excited to get her second dose. She said now that she's received it, she and her husband will be going home and staying there until the pandemic is over. King said she wished everyone would get the vaccine.

"We've already had relatives die," King said. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure we don't get it."

As a partner of the vaccine clinic, CMU offered volunteers and its own staff to aid in running the event. This group ensured social distancing and mask guidelines were met and maintained sanitizing stations. CMU also had some of its own medical students administering vaccines in the clinic.  

Marquette graduate student Eliza Annelin and Grand Ledge graduate student Karlie Lambie were administering vaccines on Feb. 17. Both said they were happy with the opportunity to help the community get vaccinated.

"It's really quite an honor to get the community members vaccinated," Lambie said. "I see this as a way to get back to normalcy and or protect the community members."  

Both students received the first dose of the vaccine and are waiting to receive the second. While maintaining COVID-19 restrictions, both Annelin and Lambie have plans once they receive their second shot.

"I plan on seeing the family members that I haven't seen since COVID started," Annelin said.

Lambie said she will be an advocate of the vaccine and will encourage her patients to get it. Annelin agreed.