Why I Got the Shot | Tar Heels Together

Why I Got the Shot

 Why I Got the Shot

COVID-19 vaccines are critical for ending the pandemic. Many in the Carolina community got the shot for more personal reasons.

The Well, Thursday, June 24th, 2021

Some do it to protect their friends and colleagues. Others can’t wait to attend a live-music event or linger over a leisurely restaurant meal. Still others simply want to hug again.

Whatever the reason, they get a COVID-19 vaccination and, for many, it’s as if a burden of worry has been lifted.

Last week, one of the most frequent questions students and parents asked the staff at Campus Health was: “What is the current vaccination rate of faculty and staff?” They care because vaccines are one of the most important tools for ending the pandemic, which has killed nearly 600,000 people in the United States. As COVID-19 vaccination rates have risen, COVID-19 cases — and deaths — have plummeted.

As of June 21, the vaccination rate for University staff was 25.6% and, for faculty, 29.9%. Based on metrics at the state and county level, the actual numbers are probably higher. But there’s no way to know until everyone who has received a vaccine self-reports with the University’s Environment, Health and Safety office.

By comparison, 42% of North Carolinians and 45.2% of all Americans are fully vaccinated.

Why is registering your vaccination important?

In a word, planning.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which records who has been vaccinated for COVID-19, has been able to loosen its requirements for mask wearing and physical distancing based on its knowledge of how many residents have been fully vaccinated.

But since the COVID-19 vaccination is not required for state employees, the University cannot access that information to find out how many of its employees have been vaccinated. Vaccination rates are a key metric for University decision-making. That’s why it’s so important that employees let the University know they have been vaccinated.

EHS does not report specific individual data to anyone and also does not provide percentages at the department or unit level. The only numbers that are shared are overall percentages for all of campus.

So why are Carolina staff and faculty getting vaccinated? Here are some reasons:

Y. Sekou Bermiss, associate professor, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School “I got vaccinated so that I could safely re-connect with my family and friends, and I am thankful that I did. I didn’t know it at the time when I made my decision but being vaccinated allowed me to visit my dad while he was in the hospital.
Mack Brown, football head coach “I got the vaccine, and I’ll tell you why. … I want to make sure that we can get back to where we can hug, we can visit, we can talk and not have to have a mask at all times.”
Andrea Bullock, prop master, PlayMakers Repertory Company “I got my COVID vaccine … to help save my industry. The pandemic has not allowed live events to happen. Although it has been upsetting to those that enjoy these events, it has been devastating to those who rely on this industry for their livelihood. Now everyone should go see a live show!”
Nancy Burton, assistant to the director, Housekeeping Services “I got vaccinated to protect myself, my family, my friends and co-workers and get back to  traveling and enjoying life.”
James David, sergeant, UNC Police “It was the overall comfort factor. The vaccine is a kind of armor.”
Brandi Brooks Davis, leadership annual giving director, University Development “So I can gather with family and friends and introduce them to my second daughter, who was born in April 2020 of the pandemic.”
Tanya Garcia, associate professor, Gillings School of Global Public Health “I got vaccinated so I could actually explore the city I moved to one year ago.”
Kevin Guskiewicz, chancellor “I am vaccinated because I want our students, faculty, staff and my family to feel safe on campus. I have missed seeing crowds of people walking across Polk Place, gathering in the Pit and cheering on the Tar Heels at games. I can’t wait to see our community together again.”
Tania Hossain, regulatory director, Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases    “So I could back to normal life and travel again to see family and friends.”
Rich McLaughlin, professor and chair, College of Arts & Sciences’ mathematics department “I got my vaccine so I get could get back working with my group in the fluids lab — plus, so I could record a new record with my new band, Travel Horse, and start playing shows (outdoors) again.” 
Becci Menghini, vice chancellor for human resources and equal opportunity and compliance “I’m vaccinated so that I can once again extend the reach of my world beyond the limitations of my Zoom screen and the walls of my living room. I’m excited to travel, to see my friends, to hug my family, and to pick out my own produce at the grocery store. Oh, and I’m excited to be back on campus too!”
“I not only got my vaccine for my amazing Carolina family but also for my family at home, as both my parents are high risk and are living with me at the moment, and my sister is pregnant with her first child, making me an aunt for the first time!”
“I took my shot to protect others and to live longer. I believe in the vaccine. I believe in our scientists. I believe in the medicine. I took it to protect others and hopefully live longer.”

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