A look into the Kent State Field House vaccine center

Portage County Health Commissioner Joe Diorio helps facilitate vaccines at the Kent State Field House on March 30. Diorio said that patients can choose to receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, but once they reach 1,200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine it will be for patients ages 16 and 17 only.

KentWired Staff

The Kent State Field House functions as a mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic every Tuesday. This past week was the first Tuesday in which everyone 16 and over in Ohio was eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Ohio. Here’s a look at the people at the Field House Tuesday. 

The Portage County Health Commissioner 

Joe Diorio, the health commissioner for Portage County, has big plans for the Field House vaccine site moving forward. 

“We’re vaccinating five hundred people an hour,” Diorio said. “We have fifteen hundred doses from University Hospitals and 1,500 from our organization. We should also have the Johnson and Johnson vaccine any day now.” 

The two vaccines currently being offered at the Field House are Moderna and Pfizer. The Pfizer vaccine can be given to anyone over the age of 16, and the Moderna vaccine can be given to any individual over the age of 18. “We will divert adults to the Moderna vaccine when we reach twelve hundred doses so 16- and 17-year-olds can still get the vaccine.” 

Diorio also went over the vaccine process. 

First, people will enter the building and be divided by which vaccine they’ll be taking. Then they will confirm their appointment time and be put in a row to wait and fill out the registration form. Then they’ll be called forward in rows for their vaccine at one of six vaccine stations. After the vaccine is administered a watch time of 15 minutes is required for most; those with underlying conditions are watched for 30 minutes. Following the wait time, arrangements for the second dose are made. 

“We want to be consistent. We’re going to be here every Tuesday so the public can plan for Tuesdays,” Diorio said.

The Field House will be a vaccine site every Tuesday through the end of the semester. 

Contact Blake Westover at [email protected]

Director of the Wick Poetry Center

David Hassler, who directs the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State, was at the vaccination site to advocate for the center’s latest project by encouraging those waiting in line to participate.

The project is called the Global Vaccine Poem, in collaboration with The University of Arizona’s Poetry Center in the College of Humanities, and it allows people to share their thoughts on the vaccine and what it means to them through poetry.

“This is an attempt to make us whole to complement the scientific curing of the virus with the creative healing of poetry,” Hassler said.

He stood outside, making sure to give as many people as possible the blue leaflets with information on the project as they left the Kent State Field House after being vaccinated.

Some of those who participated in submitting a stanza for the project had the opportunity to read their stanza on camera and explain the meaning behind it.

The project is growing and has gained stanza entries from around the world.

It provides several prompts for users to choose from that allow anyone to post a stanza that is displayed on the responses page of the website.

“The vaccine means a small dose of hope that hopefully can spread quickly,” he said. “With more and more people getting vaccinated to eventually release us from a really incredible year of isolation, difficulty and hardship.”

Contact Austin Monigold at [email protected].

Kent State Alumni

Chloe Bragg, a graduate of Kent State, received the vaccine and was eager to do so.

The process of signing up for the vaccine was a relatively easy endeavor for Bragg.

“I just called the Department of Health, and they were really nice and scheduled me really quickly after I submitted the Google Form,” she said.

Once she was scheduled, she was looking forward to getting the vaccine.

“Oh my God, yeah. I’ve been seeing a lot of my friends get it before me because a lot of my friends are teachers, and I have just been so jealous,” Bragg said.

After going into the Field House and making her way through a line that snaked into the expanse of tables set up for vaccinations inside, she came out of the doors beside the curbside vaccination area.

“I was a little worried about how organization was going to work, but it was super organized, and it was a good experience,” she said.

This vaccination will help her life go back to normal, and it held a lot of meaning for her.

“I had to reschedule my wedding due to COVID-19 concerns, so this means that I will be able to get married now,” she said. “That’s exciting and feels like the only hope I’ve felt in a while.”

Contact Austin Monigold at [email protected].

KSU Freshman Excited to Have the College Experience

Trevor Walton, a freshman at Kent State, received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday and felt an overwhelming sense of excitement afterward. 

“I feel good knowing that I’m doing what’s best for me and others around me, especially since I’m living on campus this semester,” Walton said. “I just feel very lucky to be able to get the vaccine; I know a lot of college-age students have been really looking forward to it.”

Walton shared that he believes every student who is able to should be required to get any of the three COVID-19 vaccines before returning to campus in the fall. 

“I’ve never experienced what the college experience is actually like,” Walton said. “I’ve never seen a normal semester at Kent State, and I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to experience that next semester now that we’re all eligible for the vaccine.”

What might seem mundane and normal to an upperclassman student who’s been at Kent State for a few years could be something that a freshman student has never experienced before due to the pandemic. 

“I haven’t even been in a classroom on campus yet,” Walton said. “All of my classes have been online, so I really have no idea what the normal college classroom setting looks or feels like.”

Walton was one of many students who came to Kent State’s Field House to receive their vaccine on Tuesday afternoon. By this time, the lines were moving at a moderate pace, trying to get people in and out as fast as possible. 

Piper Tell, a freshman Kent State student, received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday and finally felt like she was slowly breaking free from the pandemic.

“This whole year I have felt like I’ve been trapped in March 2020,” Tell said. “I feel like I’ve been living the same day over and over again for a year now. Today feels like the first step in the right direction.”

Due to the high demand for the COVID-19 vaccines and Kent State students who live on campus moving out after spring break, Tell said she found it important that she scheduled an appointment as early as possible. 

Tell also has her hopes high for when she returns to campus this upcoming fall semester.

“I just want to be able to walk around campus normally, with no mask and no social distancing,” Tell said. “Other students have told me how the sidewalks and pathways on-campus are always packed, but I’ve never seen that before. I’m excited to experience that type of environment next fall.”

One part of the college experience that Tell feels she missed out on this year was the football games and she’s excited to attend her first college game in the future.

“Honestly, I’m just excited to be a normal college student,” Tell said. “I think that’s something every college student can relate to these days.”

Contact Ashley Blood at [email protected].

University of Akron Students 

Keridan Morgan, a sophomore at the University of Akron, received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine which she hopes is the first step to a new normal. 

“I want to play my part in ending the pandemic,” Morgan said. “I’d really like to get back to traveling. My best friend and I want to plan a Florida vacation, and I really want to get it before then.”

Travel and duty were big reasons for Morgan’s decision to receive the vaccine but the idea of seeing family members again played a critical part. 

“I want to see my grandparents again. They live in West Virginia and I haven’t wanted to risk spreading it to them,” Morgan said. 

Morgan appreciates KSU for hosting the event and helping all members of the community end the pandemic. 

For some, the vaccine represents a new beginning. Patrick Howard, a senior at the University of Akron, hopes the Moderna vaccine will allow his life to return to its pre-pandemic days.

“By getting this out of the way I expect it will help a lot,” Howard said. Howard is a co-founder of Strife A.I, a video game software company, which he and his co-founders started up right before the pandemic began last spring.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing my coworkers again. We’re a software company so it was easy to transition to remote work, but it will still be nice to see them all every day,” he said.

“I’ve been stuck at home, but when I’m fully vaccinated in a couple weeks my boyfriend and I are going to go somewhere. Anywhere for a change of scenery,” Howard said.

Howard said the last year has been tough and he looks forward to growing his company and expressed excitement for the second dose which he will be receiving in a few weeks.

Contact Blake Westover at [email protected] 

A Pair of Friends 

Whether it’s moving, working or surviving a pandemic, friends make everything easier. That’s why Abby Mortimer accompanied Mia Wolf to get her Pfizer vaccine. 

“I want to better the community,” Wolf said. Both Wolf and Mortimer are KSU sophomores.

“I want to be better protected when going places,” Wolf said. Wolf also mentioned that even when fully vaccinated she would be hesitant to travel. 

Wolf was nervous earlier in the day about getting the vaccine but once she got to the Field House and saw the set up she felt relieved. “Now I’m here and ready for it,” she said.

“I’m here for support this week. Next week I’m getting mine,” Mortimer said. Mortimer also expressed her dislike of needles. Mortimer said, “It’s exposure therapy.”

Mortimer believes young people have missed many life opportunities that should happen in their 20s. “I’m excited for life to get back to normal. I miss general life things, like concerts,” she said.

Mortimer will receive her first dose of the Moderna vaccine next week. 

Contact Blake Westover at [email protected]

A Freshman Biology Student 

Andrea Clark, freshman biology student, got her vaccination Tuesday and believes it’s important for students on campus to get vaccinated as well. 

“College students have a higher risk of spreading it to each other and their families,” she said.

This is her first round of the vaccine and she will be required to get the second one in a month. Clark said she is looking forward to being able to participate in big gatherings again with friends.

Contact Camryn Kocher at [email protected].

A Nursing Student Helping to Vaccinate Patients  

Taylor Boothe is a senior nursing student and got the vaccine at the Cleveland Clinic. 

Boothe said the vaccines will get us back to normalcy. She is working as a nurse at the Field House and providing vaccines for patients.

“It’s one of those touchy topics and up in the air right now,” she said, “but I think it’s very beneficial to get vaccinated.” Boothe also hopes to see more students come to the field house and get their vaccinations.

Contact Camryn Kocher at [email protected].

A Portage County Volunteer 

Cory Melvin, a paramedic and volunteer for the Portage County Medical Reserve Corps, said he got vaccinated so that way he can help others around him.

“I’m getting vaccinated because it’s the right thing to do and help society, because not everyone will be getting vaccinated,” he said. 

Melvin said it’s important for himself and everyone to encourage safety precautions.

He doesn’t plan to change his behavior because of the potential to transfer and being a healthcare professional; he wants to decrease the potential risks for spreading.

Melvin said students should have the option to get the vaccine. Individuals can make the decision that best fits their needs. 

“If someone has personal or religious views, they can choose whether or not to get the vaccine,” he said.

Melvin looks forward to traveling again and is excited for his future trip to the Caribbean.

Contact Camryn Kocher at [email protected].

A Portage County Resident 

Connor Ryan, a Portage County resident, received his COVID-19 vaccine at the Kent State Field House on Tuesday and shared the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

“I just think everyone who is able to should do their part by getting vaccinated,” Ryan said. “It’s helping to solve a problem that’s bigger than ourselves. It’s for the greater good.”

Even though Ryan is one step closer to becoming fully vaccinated, he said he will still be wearing his mask and being as safe as possible until the pandemic is over, just like he’s been doing for the past year.

“I think it’ll be nice to go and sit down in a restaurant again,” Ryan said. “I haven’t been out to eat since the pandemic started and businesses shut down. That’s one thing I’m looking forward to.”

Another reason Ryan is excited about the vaccine is so he can finally see family and friends he hasn’t seen since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

“My wife and I moved up to Ohio from Texas because she became a professor at Kent State,” Ryan said. “So being apart from our close friends and family has been really hard this past year. I’m looking forward to the day we’re able to visit them again.”

In Ryan’s experience, receiving the vaccine was quick and painless, and he encourages everyone to make an appointment as quickly as possible.

Contact Ashley Blood at [email protected].