Faculty and staff updated on pandemic, vaccine procedures during virtual town hall


The town hall Thursday hosted members from the Iowa State administration and health experts to answer questions from faculty and staff.

Audrey Holtkamp

There was a virtual town hall for Iowa State faculty and staff to ask questions about returning to campus workspaces, policies regarding COVID-19 for the fall 2021 semester and COVID-19 vaccinations Thursday.

The town hall began with President Wendy Wintersteen thanking Iowa State faculty and staff for their endurance this semester.

“This semester has been another monumental team effort from every corner of campus,” Wintersteen said. “I am deeply proud and grateful for every member of our ISU community for your resiliency, for your adaptability and your commitment to serve our mission, support our students and maintain our campus operations.” 

Wintersteen then introduced two presenters to talk about vaccinations: Erin Baldwin, associate vice president for student health and wellness and director of Thielen Student Health Center, and Dr. Dan Fulton, infectious disease specialist of McFarland Clinic.

Baldwin reported that a third of Iowans are fully vaccinated and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 52 percent of all eligible people in the United States have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Baldwin also reported that the Iowa Department of Public Health is now allowing primary and secondary doses of any vaccine to be obtained at different locations.

“Within the last week, … we worked with the Iowa Department of Public Health and learned that primary or secondary doses can be obtained at different locations,” Baldwin said. “So, if we have students that want to be able to get one dose here before they leave for the summer, or if you’ve gotten a dose somewhere else in the state and want to get your second dose on campus, we have more flexibility now in how we provide that vaccine.” 

Baldwin then announced that as of Wednesday, the number of total doses given by Iowa State reached over 7,105, and 5,923 individuals have received at least one dose of a vaccine from Iowa State.

Iowa State will strongly encourage but not require individuals to be vaccinated due to a bill in the Iowa Legislature that is expected to pass, which will bar universities from mandating vaccines.

Angie Hunt, director of the Iowa State news service, asked Fulton several questions from faculty and staff in the chat about vaccinations and protocol regarding COVID-19 for the fall 2021 semester.

When responding to a question asking what to tell people unsure about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Fulton said it is important for the person to know you care about their health and the health of the community when you encourage someone to get vaccinated.

“People are hesitant about vaccines for a lot of different reasons, and I’ve actually been sort of pleasantly surprised the number of folks that I thought, when we started the conversation, that there was just no way we would maybe get anywhere, and then over the course of the conversation focused on caring and kindness, we actually can understand each other,” Fulton said. “Often, people will … be more open than you think.” 

Wintersteen encouraged everyone with more questions to visit the COVID-19 updates and resources website, on which a recording of the town hall will also be posted.