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Vaccinate NEPA: Wilkes University hosts vaccine clinic for students and staff

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The vaccine rollout is moving forward despite the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being put on pause.

The other two vaccines to get emergency use authorization are helping curb the spread of COVID-19, including on a local college campus.

It’s a first for Wilkes University to host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Officials believe getting shots into arms will help both the university and its host city. It’s a shot one Wilkes University senior wasn’t sure when he was going to get.

“Honestly, I wasn’t planning on getting it this early until Wilkes sent me an email saying vaccinations are available to students,” senior Michael Sosa said.

But a couple of things changed this week allowing students to get the shot at what was planned a week ago to be a Wilkes employee-only COVID vaccine clinic at the University Center on Main.

“With things opening up this week, it’s great. We’ve been able to get a lot of those people vaccinated,” Wilkes University Associate VP of Operations & Compliance Justin Kraynack said.

Once the state decided this week to allow all adults in Pennsylvania to get vaccinated, some Wilkes employees got the shot even sooner than this day. That meant there was enough vaccine to give to employees and students.

“If I can do something to go back to normality before the COVID so, yeah, I’m here to help,” Wilkes University professor Rafael Garcia said.

“It’s all about just being selfless in a way of trying to protect yourself and others in situations and that’s why I kind of just went for it,” Sosa said.

“We’re considered a congregate setting so our folks are together all of the time and have been since the fall semester so having these vaccinated individuals on campus is just a big relief,” Kraynack said.

Getting young adults vaccinated is seen as key in achieving herd immunity not only on campus but also in a larger sense.

“Wilkes, King’s, LCCC students… that’s part of the community. It’s very important that we’re all together and staying healthy, getting the shot is critical to the life of the community,” Wilkes-Barre City Health Department Director Henry Radulski said.

While the state emphasizes mass vaccination clinics to provide shots for thousands in a day, ones like this which serve hundreds play a pivotal role.

“Public health is community health so there are times that we have to take the vaccine to the people,” Radulski said.

Wilkes had vaccine appointments today for 250 of its employees and students. About 350 other adults in the community were then allowed to come for shots.

Wilkes will hold another vaccine clinic next Wednesday.

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