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About 100 UNG students, faculty and staff vaccinated for COVID-19

More than 100 UNG students, faculty and staff received the COVID-19 vaccination last week. Those eligible to receive it included health care workers, law enforcement officers, first responders, and adults 65 and older and their caretakers.

University of North Georgia (UNG) President Bonita Jacobs was among the 54 students, faculty and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccination Jan. 21 on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. One day earlier, 55 were vaccinated from the disease on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

UNG opened temporary clinics for current faculty, staff and students after receiving an initial batch of the vaccine from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Those eligible to receive it included health care workers, law enforcement officers, first responders, and adults 65 and older and their caretakers, said Greg Williams, associate director of emergency preparedness at UNG.

UNG faculty, staff and students who fell under the health care worker designation are those in the College of Health Sciences & Professions working or enrolled in the nursing, physical therapy or counseling programs; Corps of Cadets medics; Student Health and Counseling staff; and UNG Athletics medical staff and trainers.

More than 120 employees and 70 students at UNG are designated as 65 and older, including Dr. Kerry Stewart. The professor of political science was pleased UNG acquired the vaccine and had the ability to distribute it on campus.

"Our nursing faculty and students and Student Health Services personnel volunteered their time, rearranged their schedules, or reassigned their duties to operate the vaccination clinics," Williams said. "I think we are fortunate to have a multidisciplinary team that has worked together to bring this opportunity to UNG."

Williams said this first round will prepare UNG for a larger rollout in the near future.

"Georgia is in Phase 1A of administering the vaccine," Williams said. "Phase 1B will allow us to vaccinate our faculty, but that phase will be determined by the order of Georgia's governor."

He said a current waiting list has been launched for the vaccine, and those on the list will be informed of any future vaccination opportunities. An estimated date for additional doses will depend on the Georgia Department of Public Health allocating them as they become available.

"Acquiring the vaccine is an important part of our strategy to maintain a safe environment for learning," Williams said. "We will pursue this just as we have our COVID testing procedures."

Williams also encouraged students, faculty and staff to follow the health and safety protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19. Those protocols are to wear a mask, maintain 6 feet of social distance, wash hands often, and stay home if sick.

The UNG community is also encouraged to take a COVID-19 asymptomatic surveillance test, which is available on a weekly basis on the Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee campuses. Testing on the Blue Ridge Campus is scheduled for Feb. 2, with more dates planned in the future. Results are available in two to three days.

UNG faculty, staff and students are encouraged to contact their healthcare professional if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, symptomatic students can contact Student Health Services for an appointment.

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