Vaccinations begin with aim to get more shots to staff in coming weeks

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Professor Douglas Murray receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, administered by student nurse Jessica Banderuk. Photo by Hannah Workman.

Delta College began vaccinating its staff on Feb. 23. 

A vaccination clinic was opened in the Blanchard Gymnasium to employees 50 years of age or older. A total of 139 shots were administered, said Director of Marketing, Communication, and Outreach Alex Breitler.

Dr. Phillip Hutcheon, a professor in the English department, was one of the faculty members who received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“I couldn’t get the Pfizer because my doctor told me that the second round shot for Pfizer has not had many cases of allergic reactions or anything, whereas Moderna has had a little more trouble with the second shot,” Hutcheon said.

After much consideration, Hutcheon said he decided to go to Delta College’s vaccination clinic to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna vaccine requires two doses given 28 days apart.

“It’s very convenient to have it provided to us on campus,” Hutcheon said.

Douglas Murray, a professor in the humanities department, also received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Murray said he was excited when he heard that Delta College would be offering employees the vaccine.

“It felt like I was going to be able to move forward with some positive to counteract what we were going through,” Murray said. “But then the reality set in of, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to go get in line,’ you know, just the practical aspect.”

Murray said he talked to several people in order to gain more information and decide whether or not he wanted to receive the vaccine.

“It just seemed to be if not the least of the evils, the better of the options,” Murray said.

Murray, who has taught at Delta College for the past 12 years, said he had a difficult time adjusting to distance education when the institution was forced to cancel in-person classes at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

“That was my first experience teaching online,” Murray said. “There was the fear factor and the lack of comfort. I wasn’t a techie and I didn’t even want to do it.”

Murray said he was resistant to making the transition to distance education because he wanted to continue to see his students on campus.

“I’m still in that transition,” Murray said. “I’m still figuring it all out.”

Despite his resistance towards teaching through distance education, Murray said he believes the experience has been beneficial for him and the rest of the campus community.

“We have to find a silver lining in all of this,” Murray said. “Now all of us, the students, the teachers and the admins, can handle anything now. If they ask me to teach an online class, I can say yes and be able to function. If they want me to be boots on the ground, I can do that.”

Murray said he is looking forward to Delta College returning to in-person classes so the students can be able to interact with and learn from each other in the classroom setting.

In an Instagram Live Q&A session held the same day, President/Superintendent Dr. Omid Pourzanjani said the plans for the Fall 2021 semester are unclear.

“Our plan is to have the employees and the faculty vaccinated in the next three weeks,” Pourzanjani said. “That would be a really positive thing, but then we still need to have our students vaccinated so we can’t quite go back to normal in the fall.”

Pourzanjani said the institution might add “a few more” in-person and hybrid classes in the fall semester, unless there are different directions from the state and the county health department.

Matthew Chapa, a fourth-semester nursing student, was at the vaccination clinic to check out those who had received the vaccine and provide information to them.

Chapa has been on the frontlines caring for patients during the pandemic. He has worked in the COVID-19 unit at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

“It’s scary,” Chapa said. “The way the police have ride-alongs, I think nurses should have people from the public that come with them to see what goes on in hospitals because there aren’t enough people educated on how bad the patients are, especially in the ICU.”

Chapa said he has learned to push his fears aside.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to help the patients and take care of them and their families,” Chapa said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Chapa said he was worried he might catch the virus and bring it home to his family.

“I actually had a trailer in front of my house that I stayed in for a good month,” Chapa said.

Now, Chapa said he is back in the home and follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines to ensure he keeps his family safe.

He advises everyone to continue following CDC guidelines and listening to what the medical experts have to say.

“Wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance and don’t get complacent,” Chapa said.

Delta College is currently planning more days to hold the vaccination clinic for employees.