Congressman tours UMass vaccination clinic

Congressman Jim McGovern applauded the University’s vaccination efforts and the American Rescue Plan

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Irina Costache/Daily Collegian

By Irina Costache, Assistant News Editor

Congressman Jim McGovern visited the University of Massachusetts on Thursday morning for a tour of the University’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic and a press conference with Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy to discuss the University’s vaccine distribution efforts.

The UMass vaccine clinic is run by the University’s Public Health Promotion Center in collaboration with the College of Nursing and serves western Massachusetts in accordance with state vaccine regulations. According to a press release, the clinic has administered over 14,500 vaccines since its opening.

“I’ve never been to a place where you get a shot where people are so happy, but they are here, and that’s a tribute to your entire team and everybody who’s responsible,” said the congressman of his tour of the vaccination clinic.

During the press conference, Subbaswamy and McGovern both pointed to the importance of the American Rescue Plan, the recently passed pandemic stimulus package, in contributing to the University’s vaccination abilities.

“I say, with a deep sense of pride, that it was Congressman McGovern – along with his colleagues in the Massachusetts federal delegation – who led this effort from his post as chair of the powerful Rules Committee,” said the chancellor.

He added that the funding that the University is receiving through the plan will be contributing to campus COVID-19 testing efforts and is also what enabled UMass President Marty Meehan to recommend a tuition freeze to the Board of Trustees.

“[The American Rescue Plan] was absolutely necessary so we can get as close to back to normal as possible, as quickly as possible. So, the American Rescue Plan will help us crush this virus, and get our country moving,” McGovern said.

Regarding the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts, the congressman acknowledged that statewide efforts began with a bumpy start but was optimistic that they are improving.

“Judging from the feedback we’re hearing here is people have found this user friendly,” he said.

Also noting a disparity in vaccine distribution to Franklin and Hampshire counties in the state, the congressman stated that “The American Rescue Plan is going to provide additional resources to increase significantly dramatically the number of vaccines that are going to be produced.”

He continued, “There should be no excuse why the needs of everybody in every part of this state is [not] met.”

According to Ann Becker, public health director and co-director of the Public Health Promotion Center, essential workers on campus are eligible to be vaccinated, and all of the nursing students and emergency medical technicians who staff the clinic have already been vaccinated.

Plans to vaccinate students will follow state guidelines, which opens vaccinations to all residents aged 16 and up that were also not eligible in the previous vaccination phases on April 19. Currently, she says the University is limited in their ability to distribute vaccines based on how many they are receiving from the state.

As they continue to get more vaccinations, further plans to vaccinate students after April 19 will develop.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but to get there quicker, we all need to get vaccinated,” said McGovern.

Irina Costache can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @irinaacostache.