ODU gives students a choice: Get vaccinated or get COVID test weekly

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Wednesday was move-in day at Old Dominion University.

ODU wants students and staff to be vaccinated, or to take a COVID-19 test weekly. There are exemptions for religious and medical reasons. 

10 On Your Side went to find out how ODU move-in day was going on the COVID-19 front. 

Before we arrived, ODU reported four students got vaccinated for free. While we were there, only one got vaccinated while at least seven others got the COVID-19 test.   

We asked students why they were choosing not to get vaccinated.   

“I’m still thinking about it. I’m just trying to weigh the pros and cons. I need to think about it a little bit more before I make my decision,” ODU student Ashley Jones said.

When we asked Jones and others whether she would be more likely to get vaccinated now that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer vaccine, the answer was typically “yes.”

“Yes, that definitely helps my decision. It seems more positive, and I may be leaning in that direction now,” Jones said. 

Student Mariah Adams said testing isn’t so bad.

“It feels fine. I get this done three times a week, so I’m pretty used to it now,” she told us right after a medical technician put the long Q-Tip type instrument up her nose.

We asked her whether she has thoughts of getting vaccinated, so she doesn’t have to do this weekly test.  

“Yes, I go back and forth before I make my decision,” she said.

Freshman student Vincent Hollomond told us the FDA’s recent approval is a game-changer for him.

“And the fact that they have approved Pfizer is important to me, and I think people trust it more, I hope to get it next week,” he said.

Third-year student Keith Prince from Richmond said the approval has some impact, but he hasn’t made up his mind.

“It does weigh on me positively in my decision. It makes it a little easier in my decision. I’m still trying to think a little more about it and what I should do,” he said.

The FDA’s approval matters in a positive way for these students, but the real question is will they act on that and get vaccinated?

Outside, 10 On Your Side met Austin Kramer who is vaccinated and needs to be vaccinated, he said.

“I’m personally immunocompromised and it is very important to protect me and everyone else around me,” he said.

We told Kramer about witnessing only one student getting vaccinated and seven getting COVID tests while we were in the Big Blue Room.

“I’m not surprised ‘change and easy’ usually does not go well,” he said. 

Kramer got vaccinated earlier this year, long before FDA approval of Pfizer.

“Yes, I think a lot of people will get to know that the FDA has approved it, or fully approved it for use and it is going to change a lot of opinion for people,” he said.

Here’s another thing: When asked about other students who have not been vaccinated, Kramer is not preachy.

“What’s my message to fellow students? Do good in school,” he said with a laugh.  

ODU would not give us the exact percentage, but the school claims to have a higher percentage of vaccinated students than the vaccination rate of those in Virginia, which as of August, is 64% with at least one dose, and 56% fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. 

ODU reports that 100% of its men’s basketball team is vaccinated, with the football team almost fully vaccinated as well.

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Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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