From left, Tanya Tatum, FAMU alumnus Larry Bowden Jr. and Rica Calhoun.
Two leaders of Florida A&M University’s COVID-19 pandemic response addressed a White House workshop held as part of an effort to combat vaccine hesitancy among college age students.
Rica Calhoun, chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, and Tanya Tatum, director of the FAMU Student Health Services, addressed a White House COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge webinar Tuesday. The initiative is a partnership between the White House and the U.S. Department of Education.
Calhoun, chair of the Continuity of Operations Task Force, and Tatum, incident commander for the pandemic response, both outlined steps being taken on campus to encourage students to get vaccinated.
“It was an opportunity to share what we’ve been doing here on campus in terms of vaccinations and our response efforts that we thought were helpful. Ultimately, the strategies we’ve put in place align with the COVID-19 challenge,” Calhoun said. “It was also an opportunity to learn from other institutions across the country.”
The session was moderated by 2014 FAMU graduate Larry Bowden Jr., special assistant to the Secretary of Education
FAMU is one of more than 700 private and public universities and colleges that has signed up for the Challenge.
Participating colleges commit to taking three key actions to help get their campus communities vaccinated: engaging every student, faculty, and staff member; organizing their college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all. FAMU is home to a free testing and vaccination sites. The Vaccination site at the Al Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center offers Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. FAMU is strongly urging faculty, students, and staff to get vaccinated. Staff returns to full on-campus work on July 1. Classes are expected to be in-person this fall.
Tatum said staff is working tireless to reach out to students and parents about the need for students to be vaccinated before they return to campus.
“The challenge ahead for us is huge. We are working with students to share with them that for them to be ready to have a fantastic fall semester – we are going to have Homecoming; we are going to have activities on campus; we are going have football; we are going to have face to face classes- to get ready for all that, they have to be vaccinated,” Tatum said. “We are already seeing more cases of the new Delta variant. It has shown to be more transmissible and causing more complications. Our goal is to reach out to students to encourage them to get fully vaccinated before they return to campus.”
In July, the University plans to hold giveaways of gift cards, computers, iPads and other enticements to encourage students to get vaccinated.
“We are going to try to do everything we can to get students vaccinated,” Tatum said.