As Kenan Stadium returned to its normal capacity for the first time in over a year, UNC gave out approximately 35 vaccine doses at a clinic hosted prior to the Tar Heels' game against Georgia State.
The University offered fans two free tickets to an upcoming home game if they got vaccinated before the game on Sept. 11.
Days before the game, UNC Athletics announced a partnership with Campus Health services to vaccinate individuals as they entered the stadium. They hoped to incentivize attendees to get vaccinated by combining it with the event that people love and miss most right now — college football.
”There have been multiple discussions about using the platform of game day to support public health messaging,” said John Brunner, associate athletic director for UNC Athletics.
The vaccines were distributed by UNC Campus EMS, a new student group on campus operating under Campus Health. In addition to distributing vaccines, the organization plans to help UNC’s campus in different ways, such as responding to 911 operations and promoting mental health and diversity projects starting early next month.
Ishan Khosla, who serves as co-director for Campus EMS, was pleased with the success of the vaccination initiative this past weekend.
"We were just kind of the man and woman power behind it, using our skills to make our community a little bit safer," Khosla said.
Unlike the student vaccination site available to students during the spring semester, which was limited to Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, the stadium offered all three vaccine options, including Pfizer.
Booster shots for those already fully vaccinated were not available at the stadium site.
“Giving out the vaccine takes some time,” Kholsa said. “So, having 35 people in the four hours we were operational was absolutely incredible.”
Although UNC offered two free tickets at the Tar Heels' home opener, the offer was not available at the Virginia Tech game that occurred the weekend prior at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. Tickets can be used for the upcoming rivalry game against Duke on Oct. 2 at Kenan Stadium.
The University's student body currently has a 93 percent vaccination rate, although there have been ongoing initiatives to ensure the campus is fully vaccinated. Some students and faculty members have even pushed for the University to implement a campus-wide vaccine mandate.
“I think the students have done a good job at getting vaccinated as well, so they can go to these large events while keeping them and others safe,” sophomore defensive back Val Edwards said.
Although it is still uncertain how frequently this COVID vaccination initiative will occur at future home games this season, Kholsa strongly believes it is worthwhile and that it will better the overall health of the campus community.
He added that Campus Health has been running flu vaccination clinics in the past week and will continue to do so throughout the month of September.
“It’s just really inspiring that so many people, both on campus and in the surrounding community, want to help take part in the vaccination effort,” Kholsa said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated whether UNC will offer vaccines at upcoming football games. The University will allow fans to use tickets they received from being vaccinated at the Georgia State game at the match against Duke on Oct. 2. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
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