By Tom Travis
“If you want Friday nights at football games then get the vaccine,” is what Jackson Langford, 16, of Grand Blanc High School plans to tell his friends about being vaccinated.
“I was afraid it was going to hurt but after seeing all the other kids get it, I was okay. And it didn’t hurt,” said Kearsley High School student Hannah Pollick, 16.
Langford and Pollick were among five area teen leaders to receive their first COVID vaccine today at Mott Community College as part of Gov. Whitmer’s Protect Michigan Commission. Teens across Michigan have volunteered to serve on the governor’s commission as student ambassadors who will encourage peers to get vaccinated.
Dr. Mona Hannah-Attisha, local pediatrician and director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Heath Initiative, administered the vaccines.
“It’s exciting and fullfilling” MCC President Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea
“It’s exciting and fulfilling,” MCC President Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea commented, describing what the event at MCC meant to her. “Exciting and fulfilling because we’ve worked so hard to bring this clinic to fruition and because we know that this is needed in this area of the community and we’ve seen a wide-variety of young people start the process of getting the vaccine.
“Our young people really rely on seeing other young people do things and the power of ‘word-of-mouth’ will push more young people over the edge to finally get the vaccine.”
Working to address barriers and make it easier to get COVID vaccination
The Protect Michigan Commission is working to address barriers and make it easier for people of all ages in Flint and Genesee County to start getting vaccination.
Gov. Whitmer created the Protect Michigan Commission in January. The appointees represent a diverse array of industries, professions and backgrounds. Housed within MDHHS, they are charged with helping to ensure every Michigander has a plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once the opportunity becomes available. Their goal is facilitating at least 100,000 shots in arms daily. The most recent vaccine prioritization guidelines can be found on Michigan’s COVID-19 website, the press release stated.
No appointments necessary for walk-up vaccinations on Wednesday and Thursday
Walker-Griffea announced in her opening remarks that walk-ups are now welcome, no appointments necessary for vaccinations in MCC clinic. Walk-up/no appointment necessary vaccines are available at MCC from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Vaccinations are also available on Fridays but require appointments. The vaccinations are administered in the MCC Event Center at 401 E. Court St. Questions may be directed to (810) 835-4601 or by emailing questions to email@example.com. Yellow sandwich board signs reading “Vaccinations here” mark the entrance.
According to MCC staff, 167 vaccinations have been administered in their clinic since opening two weeks ago. Dr. Mona greeted the small crowd of only press and family members of those being vaccinated in the MCC Event Center adjacent to the Mott Library.
She added that the latest data show more than 1 in 3 residents are fully vaccinated in Genesee County. More than 45 percent of those age 16+ have received at least one vaccine doses in Genesee County or about 150,000 people. More than 72 percent of Genesee County residents 65 and over have received at least one dose and more than 54 percent of those ages 50-64 have received at least one dose.
The five area student leaders receiving the COVID vaccine were:
Jackson Langford is 16 and a sophomore at Grand Blanc High School, plays tight end for Grand Blanc JV football and works as a sandwich artist at a local Subway. When Jackson was in the 7th grade, he became aware of kids in his school who went without lunch because they didn’t have enough lunch money in their account. Jackson spoke up for his classmates and the Hunger Free Student Bill of Rights was introduced in the Michigan legislature in 2019 by Michigan state Senator Jim Ananich.
Kori Richmond-Sattiewhite – is 17 and a sophomore at Southwestern Academy. She is in the top 10 of her class and is in the National Honor Society. She has accepted a full-ride scholarship to Wayne State University and plans to major in biological sciences in hopes to become a anesthesiologist. Kori said that she was inspired to get her vaccine today because of her father contracting the virus last Fall.
Jasmine Hayne attends Southwestern Academy and is a National Honor Society member, serves on the Southwestern Academy’s student government council and is a Teen Quest graduate. Jasmine has won many scholarships, volunteers at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and has a 3.6 GPA and will be the salutatorian in her graduating class. She will attend Eastern Michigan University on a full-ride scholarship.
Alyssa Young is 17 and a senior at Hamady High School with a 3.9 GPA and has received the 2015 President’s Education Award from then-President Barack Obama. Alyssa has served as a Girl Scout for many years has been involved in Teen Quest. Alyssa is motivated to get her COVID vaccination today because she knows first-hand how devastating the virus can be. Two of her family members have been infected with COVID and one was hospitalized in Pennsylvania and placed on a ventilator for more than three weeks.
Hannah Pollick is 16 and in the 10th grade at Kearsley High School. She participates on the school’s swimming and bowling teams. Hannah also has first hand experience with the COVID virus as her mom, grandma and aunt all have been diagnosed with COVID, thankfully all have recovered.
“The COVID vaccination event today at MCC is to promote awareness that Michigan youth are among the fastest-gowning segment of Michigan’s population at risk of contracting COVID-19, Gov. Whitmer’s Protect Michigan Commission is recruiting student leaders 16 and older to serve as volunteer COVID-19 ambassadors.“They are encouraging their peers to get vaccinated and continue to practice preventative measures such as properly wearing masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing to reduce the spread of the virus until the vast majority of people have been vaccinated. The Flint-area Protect Michigan Commission student ambassadors will receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine from Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.
“Individuals 16 and 17 years of age must receive the Pfizer vaccine only. Moderna vaccines are only recommended for those 18 years and older. Minors ages 16 and 17 will need a parent or legal guardian to accompany them to their appointment in order to provide consent to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.“In some counties, the parent or legal guardian may be able to provide consent through a note or a phone call that has been verified by two nurses. Check with the vaccine provider first to see if this is an option where you live,” according to a press release.
Dale Weighill, MCC’s associate vice president for institutional advancement commented the event today shows MCC takes its mission seriously in serving everybody in the community not just our students and staff. We wanted to provide a space where people can come and get a vaccine and feel safe about it from a trusted institution in the community.”
Weighill added that they do not know how many faculty and staff are vaccinated because they do not require them to report that information. A similar event was held at MCC in mid-April for faculty, staff and students to bring their family with them to be vaccinated. Weighill said about 300 were vaccinated at that event.
Walker-Griffea told EVM that MCC plans to be at 60 percent in the Fall for in-person classes. She commented that, “it’s been tough for our students doing the college work virtually. The students have talked about how tough it ihas been by not having the motivation to get things done.” But Walker-Griffea added that in the end many of the students have seen that this experience has shown them that they can do anything.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.