Other than a sore right arm, Andrea Sakoff experienced no side effects from the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine she received this week in the Health, Wellness and Recreation Center on the MTSU campus.
MTSU began administering the vaccine to eligible faculty, staff, students and retirees last week in the lobby of the Campus Rec Center on Blue Raider Drive.
The state implemented the Phase 1c level — Tennesseans 16 years old or older with high-risk health conditions — Monday, March 8. The vaccine will be administered by Health Services nurses from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Eligible campus community and qualified household members must have an appointment and meet the current criteria.
This week, MTSU is offering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the rec center clinic and also for the Thursday/Saturday School of Nursing-led community vaccine clinic for eligible area residents in Cason-Kennedy Nursing Building.
The Health Services and School of Nursing clinics are operated independently of one another. The nursing site is a partnership with the Rutherford County Health Department.
With Moderna, Health Services administered about 250 doses in three days at the Rec Center and 800 doses across two days in the nursing building.
“It has been a bit hectic but rewarding to be able to assist in getting our campus community healthy and safe,” said Pharmacist Tabby Ragland. “We have come together as the MTSU True Blue family to help take care of each other. The response from those vaccinated has been so positive.”
Ragland helps keep up with the number of vaccine doses and ensures they remain at the right temperatures through the entire process at both locations. She points out that both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only approved for age 18 and up.
Health Services Director Rick Chapman said they continue to see expanded production of the vaccines
Vaccine availability at MTSU is determined by Tennessee Department of Health To check availability of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine in Rutherford County, please visit www.covidrc.com or call 615-898-7997.
Feeling ‘safer’ in an athletic environment
Sakoff, who is a secretary in Murphy Center, finds it “very exciting” to qualify for and receive the vaccine. She feels “definitely a great deal safer.”
“Working here in Murphy Center around athletes, it was a great relief (to get the first dose),” Sakoff said, adding she works on the first-floor hallway across from the practice gym.
Many Murphy Center and athletic department personnel worked remotely from March until returning in June 2020.
Sakoff and husband Michael have not seen daughter/son-in-law, Lauren and Lee Kleinsmith of Denver, Colorado, since Thanksgiving 2019. A second daughter/son-in-law, Demi and Taylor Gimino, live in Murfreesboro.
Andrea Sakoff thanks the university and President Sidney A. McPhee for offering the vaccine. “The president wants everybody back on campus. This is really a great opportunity he’s giving,” she said.
Awaiting Johnson & Johnson vaccine
MTSU College of Behavioral and Health Sciences adviser Bonnie McCarty awaits the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Thursday, March 11, with mixed emotions.
“I’m nervous about the side effects I hear everyone talk about,” McCarty said, “but it’s worth it to have the protection from COVID-19.
Though she has seen her parents, James and Nevalyn Moore of Campbellsville, Kentucky, in a state park environment with separate cabins, meals outdoors and other safety protocols in place, the McCarty family — with vaccinations in place — can travel to Kentucky for the Easter holiday “so we can actually be in the same space together for the first time in more than a year,” she said.
“I’ve been stuck inside for nearly a year, only able to go to the doctor and terrified of getting sick,” added McCarty. “I’m looking forward to getting the vaccine and having some relief from those worries. I’ll still need to be careful since I’m high risk and no vaccine can be completely effective, but this will give me a lot of peace of mind and will allow me to get out into the world more.”
McCarty said she “debated between the various types (J&J, Moderna and Pfizer) and did some research. Ultimately, I felt that I’d be well protected with any of them, and the Johnson & Johnson would be effective more quickly and possibly with less side effects.”
—Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)