Before Ohio University announced its plans to provide vaccines to students, many were already finding their own ways to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Thursday, OU said it will begin distributing the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at Heritage Hall, 191 W. Union St. Students are now able to make appointments, and clinics will be held Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next two weeks, according to a university news release. Although this will make the vaccine more available to students, some were already taking advantage of opportunities to receive the vaccine throughout Southeast Ohio.

Charlie Knox, a sophomore studying strategic communication, signed up to get his vaccine from Shrivers Pharmacy, 21 Hocking Mall, Logan. He received his first shot of the Moderna vaccine March 25.

“I saw that they changed the requirement. I was like, ‘Oh, that'd be so cool. I'd be able to get my vaccine,’” Knox said. “My roommate … sent me the link to this location, and we scheduled for our times, and it was actually really simple … then we had a friend drive us down.”

Knox will receive his second vaccine four weeks after his first shot. It was a simple process, and Knox said people just need to know where to look for open appointments. 

“I was lucky because I have a friend that was able to drive us,” Knox said. “Make a day out of it, and go down to wherever you can, and go get (the vaccine). It doesn't matter which one you get at this point. Just get one so we can all go back to the way things were.” 

Angel Vergona, a junior studying political science pre-law and sociology, has been doing everything she can to get students to vaccination clinics. Vergona got the Moderna vaccine around the same time as Knox and will receive her second dose April 19. She received her vaccine at Fruth Pharmacy, 8972 United Lane, Athens. 

“I've been on the waitlist for a bunch of vaccines, but before … you weren't allowed to just really give them out unless there was extra doses,” Vergona said. “I was just on Twitter and saw that Governor DeWine had said that it was OK to give any extra appointments, so I went on to the website where you can check … They had like 10 open appointments a day, so then I called, and they said if we could get there, we could have them.”

Vergona went with two others to receive the vaccine. Soon after, she began sending information out to student organizations she was a part of where many underclassmen without transportation expressed interest in receiving the vaccine. 

“We realized it was 40 minutes away, most of the extra doses,” Vergona said. “I took to the group chats, and a lot of people stepped up, either go with them if they were already getting it or some people even offered to drive them. So, everybody was really great about trying to help everyone.”

Now that vaccines are more accessible on campus, the need to drive far away to find available appointments will hopefully be lessened. Still, Vergona emphasized the importance of receiving the vaccine.

“I would just obviously say to every student to get the vaccine if you can or to at least consider it. There's a lot of misconceptions going around about the vaccine,” Vergona said. “I would urge anyone who has hesitations to look into it or talk to somebody who's more educated on the vaccine, like a medical professional, before just not getting it.”

OU has also introduced Bobcat Health Ambassadors — a peer group that promotes an initiative for students to understand what must be done to stop the spread of COVID-19 — to assist in student vaccinations. Ambassadors will be around campus to talk to students about how they can register at the vaccination clinics, Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson, said. 

“Ensuring our students are vaccinated is a huge step forward toward a return to the collaborative, experiential learning environment we all crave and that OHIO is known for delivering,” OU President Duane Nellis said in a university-wide email. 

@CSchiopota

cs123719@ohio.edu