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Mercer officially joined the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge last Thursday, according to the university. The school will participate in the program at the request of the White House and the U.S Department of Education.
The College Vaccine Challenge advocates for colleges and universities around the country to offer vaccinations for campus communities. The challenge has three “key actions,” according to the White House: engaging every student, faculty, and staff member; organizing college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all.
Mercer joins the initiative after making vaccinations available to the campus community in late March and early April. Mercer Director of Student Health Dr. Lynn Denny encourages Mercer students to get vaccinated.
“It is important for the whole Mercer community to get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19 illness in our students, faculty and staff, as well as our loved ones,” Denny said to The Den.
The university continues to offer vaccines throughout the summer but has not announced that it will require students and staff to be vaccinated this fall, although they do “strongly encourage” it, according to The Den. Masks will not be required for vaccinated students and employees at Mercer this fall.
Mercer University President Bill Underwood also emphasized the importance of the vaccine in an email to students April 13.
“I encourage all of you who have not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible,” Underwood said. “The vaccination sites on our campuses could not be more convenient. By getting vaccinated, you will help us achieve herd immunity in our nation and community.”
Mercer is one of eight Georgia colleges and universities to join the College Vaccine Challenge as of June 15, according to the White House’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge page. Other Georgia schools that have joined the initiative include Georgia Southern University and Emory University.
The College Vaccine Challenge is intended to build on President Joe Biden’s program matching federal pharmacy program partners with high-enrollment community colleges to provide vaccines. The community college program was introduced May 11, and the College Vaccine Challenge was announced June 3.
Students and employees can schedule vaccination appointments here or find more information on Mercer’s updated COVID-19 policies here.
Micah Johnston ‘22 is a journalism and media studies double major who has written for The Cluster since his freshman year at Mercer. He has written on and reported for Georgia Public Broadcasting, The Macon Telegraph and The Macon Newsroom on a variety of topics. He received the Center for Collaborative Journalism’s Junior Honors Award for the 2020-2021 academic year. Micah’s other interests include obsessively following Braves and Mariners baseball, constantly listening to all kinds of music and probably eating junk food.