Phase 1B underway in Ashland County

Katie Harrigan

As COVID-19 vaccines begin to be administered across the state of Ohio, several phases have been implemented, determining who is eligible to receive it.

Phase 1B includes employees of K-12 schools, but does not recognize college professors as part of this priority group.

“While it would be great if there were enough vaccines to include college professors, I understand the distinction,” Chair of the Biology department, Dr. Paul Hyman said. “At the University, we are interacting with a different type of student than K-12 teachers, our students are better able to social distance in class than younger children.”

Hyman said as more vaccines become available, professors should consider getting vaccinated for the safety of themselves and their students.

“Increasing levels of face-to-face teaching should be matched by the increased protection vaccines provide,” Hyman said.

Hyman expressed he is planning on getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible since data has shown it to be effective in preventing serious disease.

“Eleven persons per million have a severe allergic reaction and no other serious effects have been definitively linked to the vaccines after millions of injections” Hyman said. He added that The common adverse effects such as arm pain, tiredness and mild fever are the same as any other vaccine and not particularly concerning to him.

Hyman stated if enough people are vaccinated, the spread of the virus can be reduced and it should limit infection just like the flu vaccine.

“We only know that the vaccines protect people against severe disease that would lead to hospitalization, something that can be easily measured in a short time,” Hyman said. “Later we will know about how well people are protected against infection, something that takes more time to determine. But, preventing severe disease is a great outcome.”

The Ashland County Health Department has teamed up with University Hospitals and Drug Mart to bring Moderna, a two-dose vaccine regimen to the community.

Director of nursing at the Ashland County Health Department, Shirley Bixby said over 2,000 people within the community have received their first dose of the vaccine and over 8,000 are eligible.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19, but we’re doing our best to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Bixby said.

Bixby encourages everyone considering the vaccine to talk to their doctor and evaluate their medical history before making an informed decision.
Ashland University President, Carlos Campo stated he would have preferred the phase 1B plan to include college professors, but he understands the line has to be drawn somewhere.

“Some of our professors actually did qualify under guidelines because they are either healthcare workers or dual enrollment teachers at a high school,” Campo said.

Campo said he is hearing strong support within the faculty and student body about taking the vaccine sooner rather than later.

“We want to educate our community about the vaccine and encourage it, but also be respectful about everyone’s right to choose what is best for them” Campo said.

Ashland University currently has no reported cases of COVID-19.

Even with this accomplishment, Campo urges those on Campus to continue wearing masks, social distancing and staying informed about safety precautions.
“Our primary responsibility is to keep students safe and we want to make sure our policies reflect that commitment.”