SU students team up to help community navigate COVID-19 vaccination process
SALISBURY, Md. – A group of Salisbury University students are stepping up to help their community navigate the COVID-19 vaccination process. Jack Lenox and Katelin Stella-Breeding gathered more than five dozen students to help volunteer at the mass vaccination site at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. “Her and I drew up essentially a basic idea of ways we thought people might want to get involved and set it out to our networks. That blew up really fast and suddenly there were like 60 or 70 students that had volunteered,” said Lenox.
Lenox says they’re also working on forming a vaccine equity task force. He says the goal there is to reach out to the community to find out how they can get vaccines to every one. “I thought that students, being very technologically literate, would be more than able to help out members of our community who might not have access to computers or maybe didn’t have the right information for registration, or maybe just needed help getting through the website,” said Lenox. “That’s going to involve polling our community and getting in touch with different non profits and community organizers. We’re going to be reaching out to churches and others to find out where there is a need and how can we direct our efforts.”
Lenox says the reason that task force will be so important is because of the inequities that many marginalized Marylanders are facing amid vaccine distribution. “Our state has a history, especially with our African American population of mistrust with the medical establishment. So, one of my main goals is to address at a community level the disparities between different groups of people being vaccinated,” said Lenox.
The group is also encouraging students to register as student volunteers with the University System of Maryland. “We have a lot of students who, for example, might be distance learning in Frederick County. So through the system, we can have people sign up to as Salisbury students, but still be able to volunteer in their community,” said Lenox.
Another front the group says they’re hoping to tackle is researching the vaccines, and educating the community on what exactly is in them. “Here we have a bunch of really smart biology majors, communications majors, and nursing majors. We can figure out what all of the ingredients are in these vaccines. We can look at each of the three vaccines and say here are the ingredients, what they do in your body, and why they’re in the vaccine,” said Lenox.
Lenox says the response from his fellow students has been overwhelming. “The fact that it went as viral as it did within the student network is really just a testament to the quality of Salisbury’s students and the quality of character in our community. People really were reaching out to me faster than I was reaching out to them,” said Lenox.
The work isn’t stopping there. Lenox graduates in May, but Stella-Breeding will return for her senior year in the fall. Stella-Breeding is running unopposed for the SU Student Government Association, and says she plans to make the initiative’s efforts part of her duties with the SGA. Lenox says any Salisbury University students who want to get involved can do so by contacting him or Stella-Breeding via email. Their email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org or Stella-Breeding at email@example.com.