NMU opens self-monitoring surveys, Health Center taking vaccination appointments

Joleigh+Martinez%2FNW

Joleigh Martinez/NW

Dreyma Beronja, News Editor

NMU is now in week four of the academic semester with being fully back in person. Precautions are continuously being made to make sure campus is safe by mask mandates, social distancing and as of Sept. 14, self-monitoring surveys.

In an email sent by President Fritz Erickson, those who have yet to import their vaccination information to The Bridge will now be sent a two minute self-monitoring survey each week. While the primary focus is on those who have yet to import vaccination information, several hundred vaccinated individuals will be chosen at random and asked to participate once per semester.

“This 2-minute survey will provide the University with information for potential targeted testing areas,” Erickson wrote in his email.

The $100 dining credit as NMU’s thank you for getting vaccinated will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1. Erickson wrote in his email to not select the ‘opt out’ option unless you do not wish to receive dining credit.

For those who still need to be vaccinated and are looking to set up an appointment, the NMU Health Center is open for vaccinations. An appointment can be set up either over the phone at 906-227-2355 or by email at [email protected]

Christopher Kirkpatrick, medical director for the Health Center, said that the Health Center is currently doing Janssen Thursdays and Pfizer Fridays. The Janssen vaccine expires on Sept. 23, 2021 and Kirkpatrick does not know whether NMU will receive Johnson and Johnson allocations after.

“But Pfizer is the current full FDA approved vaccine and we have ample supply of that,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick said that NMU is currently gearing up for the potential of an approved third vaccination shot, otherwise known as the booster shot. The booster shot is for those eight months post their second vaccination shot.

“We are already currently giving booster vaccines to the immunocompromised here at the clinic, so plans are to continue doing that on a weekly basis here moving forward,” Kirkpatrick said.

NMU is seeing more protection on campus with the vaccination. Currently, on the Safe on Campus Dashboard, the on-campus vaccination rate sits at 72.7% for being vaccinated. Student vaccination rate sits at 71.5%, residence hall vaccination rate at 71.1% and employees at 87.9%.

Kirkpatrick said that all the metrics on campus are looking good and that the community has to think about it as at least 70% of the people on campus are protected in some way.

“When we talk about herd immunity, you talk about an exposure, somebody who’s vaccinated and it arrests the virus from spreading further, has had really a big impact,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think that’s why we’re seeing the good numbers that we are here.”

Compared to last fall semester, since NMU had no protection with the lack of vaccinations accessible to everyone, cases were at 37 by Sept. 8, 2020. A year later, NMU’s total positive cases since the start of the semester, Aug. 23, is at 14.

“In the past, we found that the university, our students, faculty and staff were kind of subject to the waves of virus that were coming through the general population,” Kirkpatrick said. “You know, we watch the external guidance on the county and Upper Peninsula in Michigan as a whole, as well as the nationwide trends and I think that we’re doing very good here as a little environment of our own here at Northern with very high vaccination rates higher than the community at large here.”

Kirkpatrick said that he believes NMU will be protected in some way if the community were to see another wave of COVID-19 outbreaks were to pass through.

As for what NMU will look like the rest of the semester leading into Thanksgiving Break, Kirkpatrick said that NMU will still continue to hold the current guidance and requirement of requiring masks to be worn properly meaning above the nose and covering the mouth.

“Looking forward, you know, watching carefully what the guidance is as far as employment requirements for vaccination and just the continued push to vaccinate here at the clinic,” Kirkpatrick said.