Simmons students receive the COVID vaccine


Senior Lucy McNamara’s COVID Vaccine Record Card. Image courtesy of Lucy McNamara.

Sofia Gulick, Staff Writer

As the one-year anniversary of Simmons implementing remote learning because of the pandemic approaches, Simmons students have begun receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Just last month, Simmons received 100 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Simmons distributed the vaccines based on CDC and state distribution guidelines, according to Laura Brink Pisinski, chair of the Simmons University COVID-19 Recovery Taskforce and vice president of University Real Estate and Facilities. 

Brink Pisinksi said in an emailed statement that the doses were distributed to a portion of Simmons’ healthcare staff, first responders and qualifying students in clinical placements who didn’t get the vaccine at their clinical site. 

“Due to the strict distribution guidelines, we do not yet know if and when Simmons will receive additional vaccine doses (beyond the second doses reserved for those who received their first shot on campus),” wrote Brink Pisinski in the email..  

Besides the current students who are able to receive the vaccine through Simmons, others have gotten it through their jobs. Graduate Simmons nursing student Megan Alberigi works at Massachusetts General Hospital, which gave her the opportunity to receive the vaccine.

“I had a very sore arm and some fatigue after the first shot. Many of my coworkers have had to call out of work after receiving the second shot due to fever, nausea, fatigue, et cetera,” said Alberigi. These reactions are quite normal from a wide variety of participants who have received their COVID-19 vaccine, and should not be concerning to those who are waiting to receive theirs.  

Senior public relations and marketing communications student Lucy McNamara, who interns at Boston Children’s Hospital, was given the Pfizer vaccine even though she is not directly a healthcare worker. 

“Being an intern included me in the staff vaccine roll out and I jumped on the opportunity to receive my first dose,” said McNamara. McNamara, like Alberigi, has yet to receive her second dose of the vaccine, but anticipates that there will be more of a reaction than the soreness to the injection site she experienced after the first.   

 Juniors Leah Danforth and Sara Melara are nursing students who recently received the vaccine because of working on the front lines at their respective hospitals. Danforth, who is a licensed nursing assistant (LNA,) in the medical surgical inpatient unit, received her Moderna vaccine through the Monadnock Community Hospital in New Hampshire. 

Melara is a certified nursing assistant (CNA,) on the labor and delivery floor at North Shore Medical Center in Salem Hospital, and was able to receive her vaccine there.

Danforth said she was nervous about getting the vaccine due to the side effects, but said they would be worth it to reach herd immunity. By having this immunity, it would allow for people to be immune to COVID-19, making this virus less likely to spread as quickly as it has been. 

“We all want to return to a more normal state, and the vaccine is what will help us with that,” said Danforth.

Melara added to Danforth’s comment that, “during a global pandemic, we need to be able to put our trust in how our scientific methods and systems have advanced over the years in order to put together this vaccine.”

On January 22, Simmons sent out an email updating students, faculty and staff about the COVID-19 vaccines, and where Simmons was in the process. At that time, the Simmons University COVID-19 Recovery Task Force sent out a message saying that, “the vast majority of Simmons students, faculty and staff who reside in Massachusetts will be eligible for the vaccine during Phase Three, when it is made available to the general public.” However, some students were eligible for the vaccine during Phase One because it applied to clinical and non-clinical health care workers, employees in long-term care and assisted living facilities, first responders, and nursing students.  

The question remains how long will it take for the entire Simmons community to be vaccinated in their respective states, and what this will bring for the fall 2021 semester. On March 1, 2021, Simmons University announced in an email that it intends to bring all students back to campus in the fall. 

“We know there is much interest in Fall semester plans,” stated the email from the Office of the Provost. “While much is still uncertain related to the virus, we are planning to welcome all students back to campus this fall as long as conditions remain favorable.” This statement was issued within an email that Simmons sent out in regards to Summer 2021 courses being mainly online, with only a few of their courses being offered in-person.

Brink Pisinski commented on Simmons’ next move for the fall in regards to the vaccine saying in an emailed statement, “we are still developing our COVID-19 vaccination plan for the fall and will be following the guidelines and requirements from the CDC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston. Currently, there is no requirement for students to be vaccinated to return to campus – that could change, however, as vaccines become more readily available to the general population.”