Number of Kent State University Community Members Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Increases Daily

Employees from Kent State University’s Child Development Center are among a growing list of groups from the university who recently “flashed their arms” and got vaccinated against COVID-19.

The list of students, faculty and staff who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations continues to grow as the state of Ohio continues to increase the number of Ohioans eligible for a vaccine. As of March 29
Kent State student Audrey Seiphert receives a COVID-19 vaccine.
, all Ohioans age 16 and older are eligible to receive a vaccine, however, Gov. Mike DeWine has said they can receive the vaccine immediately if open appointments are available.

The child development center group got shots in mid-March at the Ravenna Elks Club, a vaccine distribution site for the Portage County Combined General Health District. Kent State police officers also were vaccinated at the Ravenna site.

All became eligible for vaccines after Ohio expanded eligibility to include child-care workers and police personnel, among others.

Monica Miller Marsh
Monica Miller Marsh, associate professor and director of the child development center, said she had been hoping her staff would have been eligible for vaccinations when educators had received theirs several weeks earlier because child-care workers had been serving children and families for months when public schools remained closed. In addition, due to the pandemic, the center began offering an elementary school program for children in kindergarten through third grade.

She was grateful when state eligibility requirements changed in early March to include child-care workers. All 46 staffers at the child-care center were expected to get their first dose of vaccine in March, including student workers, teachers, clerical and administrative staff.

“I have been fighting for these vaccines for a while,”  Marsh said.

She said the center reopened in August 2020, and she was anxious for the employees there to have the protection of the vaccine for themselves and the children they work with daily. 

“I was just so grateful I was able to get vaccinated,” Marsh said. “I absolutely feel more protected. I think most of the Kent State students really want to get it. They really want life to get back to normal.”

Stella-Ruby Marcher, a Kent State students, receives a COVID-19 vaccine.
Julie Stoll, finance coordinator at the center and associate professor of early childhood education, also received her vaccination on March 11, along with a group of student employees from the center.

“I was very thrilled. I’ve been waiting and waiting and it’s kind of a sense of relief, even though I still need one more dose,” she said. “We were all very excited.”

Other groups from the university community have been steadily getting their shots as state eligibility requirements have allowed.

Taryn Burhanna, Kent State College of Nursing
Taryn R. Burhanna, lecturer and clinical instructor for Kent State’s College of Nursing, said at least 40 percent of nursing students already been vaccinated at the hospitals and other locations where they are serving their clinical rotations.

“They are training to be frontline staff and they are there working alongside frontline workers,” Burhanna said, explaining how the students were included in the early rounds of vaccinations for health care workers in Ohio.

Other staff, students and faculty members have been vaccinated because they qualified due to age or other eligibility requirements established by the state for vaccine distribution. 

Manfred van Dulmen, chairman of Kent State’s pandemic leadership committee and interim associate provost for academic affairs, said the university has been encouraging everyone in its community to get vaccinated as soon as they have the opportunity, as part of the university’s overall COVID-19 mitigation strategy to return to traditional campus life for 2021 Fall Semester.
Manfred van Dulmen

As part of the effort, he said the university recently updated its list of seven safety protocols to the Flashes Safe Eight to include getting a vaccine, along with hand hygiene, physical distancing, face coverings and other measures. Although vaccination is not required for any Kent State student, faculty or staff members, it is strongly encouraged.

Beginning March 23, Portage County will begin holding mass vaccination clinics at Kent State’s Field House. Many of Kent State’s regional campuses already have been used as vaccine distribution sites in their respective counties, van Dulmen said.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide the university community – as well as the larger northeast Ohio community – access to the COVID-19 vaccine on various Kent State campus locations,” van Dulmen said. “Being able to distribute the vaccine at Kent State locations throughout northeast Ohio is critical to ensuring access for all who want to receive the vaccine and an important milestone in helping to get campus life back to normal.”

Anyone looking to sign up for a vaccination at the Kent State Field House should register through the Portage County health district. Clinics will be held through the spring. Kent State also has set up a phone bank to help Portage County schedule shots at the field house clinics for those who register with the health district.

William Buckbee, Kent State’s assistant director of public safety, assistant police chief, and co-chair of the university’s Vaccination Committee, said the call center is staffed with volunteers from Kent State who are answering phones to schedule appointments for Portage County residents to receive vaccines at the field house.
Kent State employees volunteer at a call center to help register Portage County residents for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Todd Kamenash
Todd Kamenash, associate dean of students for conduct and community engagement, set up the center and oversees staffing it with volunteers.
In its first week of operation, Kamenash reported the center had 31 volunteers, who provided 74 hours of service, making more than 2,200 phone calls to schedule 425 vaccine appointments for Portage County residents.

“Our volunteers are doing a great job,” Buckbee said.

Vaccinations also are available at numerous pharmacies and clinics throughout the state and can be scheduled using the state’s vaccination portal.

POSTED: Monday, March 22, 2021 - 5:25pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 25, 2021 - 2:34pm
Lisa Abraham