Augustana community members begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations

One hundred fifty-six individuals have been fully vaccinated at Augustana so far with 112 more still in the process.

Religion professor Ann Pederson and Associate music professor Russell Svenningsen are among those in the vaccination process. Pederson has already gotten both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and Svenningsen just received his first dose of the same vaccine last week. Neither were worried about getting the shots.

Pederson’s worst side effect was a sore arm. She said she already felt safer after getting it and will feel even better after the vaccine has taken full effect.

While Pederson wasn’t worried about getting the vaccine herself, she does have some concerns about how the vaccine will affect the Augustana community more broadly and that people will develop a false sense of security.

“I worry that people will take more risks,” said Pederson. “We still need to use masks until the risks for vulnerable populations are mitigated.”

Svenningsen had more confidence in the Augustana community’s ability to continue to stay healthy.

“My impression of the Augustana community […] is that everyone seems to have handled it pretty well,” said Svenningsen. “From my perspective, it does seem that everyone is adhering to the guidelines for the most part.”

Both Pederson and Svenningsen agree that although they were now vaccinated, they should continue to take precautions to protect the community at large.

“The science says we should still wear our masks. […] I’m still part of the team,” said Svenningsen. “I’ll still wear a mask.”

The majority of Augustana still remains unvaccinated. There are still no specifics on when college students will be eligible for vaccines.

“We do not know for sure when everyone will have had the opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Suzie O’Meara Hernes, the COVID-19 coordinator at Augustana. “We anticipate that will be some time this summer.”

Until more of the Augustana community is eligible for vaccination, O’Meara Hernes will keep a close eye on vaccine rollout and make sure every opportunity for vaccination is available to the Augustana community.

Both Pederson and Svenningsen encouraged others to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them.

O’Meara Hernes pointed out that not everyone on campus or in the larger Sioux Falls community will choose to be vaccinated. She is focused on providing vaccination opportunities and letting individuals choose if they would like to receive a vaccine.

Pederson acknowledged that some populations who have been abused by medical and healthcare institutions may be hesitant to get the vaccine and that some people may have medical reasons that prevent them from getting vaccinated.

To those who are hesitant, Pederson said, “Listen to your community leaders that you trust.”

Svenningsen expressed his excitement and gratitude after he got a vaccine appointment for the following day. He said he was excited to do his part to achieve herd immunity and was thankful for how quickly the vaccine was developed as well as to everyone who developed it.

“I just can’t wait until I can hug my friends again, and if this is what it takes, I’m in,” Svenningsen said.