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Dean’s Blog: Not throwin’ away my shot

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

About a week ago, George Mason University President Gregory Washington sent an email to all Mason faculty and staff to let us know our university would be offering an opportunity to receive a Covid-19 vaccine starting last Saturday, April 10 at the Eagle Bank Arena. Students could have the same option later this month. Within a week, a myriad of volunteers and healthcare professionals offered hundreds of appointments for our Mason nation for all interested. We are fortunate to have this opportunity as an option as there are more than 120 million Americans still waiting for their first shot.

A few days ago, I personally received my second COVID-19 vaccination. Based on my classification within the CDC vaccination roll out, living in Maryland, I was provided the opportunity last month, just as the case and death counts were starting to drop, and, to quote the popular Broadway musical, Hamilton, “I’m not throwing away my shot” to fight this pandemic.

I know many of my colleagues took the opportunity to get vaccinated when Mason offered it. Our mantra from the beginning has been #DoYourPartMason and our Mason science community has bravely come forward across many fronts, forming global and national collaborations to research vaccinations and their efficacy, analyzing COVID-19 airborne spread, developing revolutionary saliva testing methods that are less invasive and provide rapid results to help our campus community monitor the spread, even creating analytical tools to find COVID-19 prediction consensus, identify nationwide hospital ER capacity, vaccine availability, and education sector roll out.

According to the CDC, as of April 12, there were over 120 million Americans who received their first vaccine, over 36.4% of the total US population, and over 74 million (22.3% of the US population) are fully vaccinated.  Colleagues share story after story about people they may know who must go online each day looking for places for their friends and family to be able to get vaccinated. After reviewing websites and filling out countless online forms, some even welcome the chance to drive hours for the opportunity. We are fortunate.

One of the advantages of affiliation with Mason, an R-1 university known for its prominent biosciences and public health programs, is our ability for our medically-trained colleagues to offer such opportunities right on our Fairfax, VA campus. Going through the Eagle Bank Arena vaccine clinic this weekend, one couldn’t help but be impressed at the operations, providing a welcome Covid-19 pandemic respite for our surrounding community; even the volunteers, including many of our faculty and staff, demonstrated efficient intake and vaccination processes and protocol, as well as kind words and support.


Vaccine data


For the past year, we have monitored COVID-19 case levels at Mason and in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia area), and we continue to encourage the Mason Science community to #DoYourPartMason. Continue to wear masks to reduce the spread, follow CDC safety guidelines and I strongly encourage you to step up and get vaccinated. This will make our Mason science community much safer and allow us to get back to a more normal pace of university life much sooner.

Together, we will continue to navigate this pandemic with safety as our primary focus, our hopeful eyes on the summer and fall semester horizons ahead.