*Published on January 20, 2021

Northeastern ramped up its COVID-19 vaccination rollout on the Boston campus on Tuesday, boosted by a fresh influx of 2,000 new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses meant to further protect the university community.

“I’m very proud of my university for its response to the COVID crisis, both in its ability to provide testing and now taking up the national challenge of developing a vaccination project that is truly effective and inclusive and fair,” said Margaret A. Burnham, university distinguished professor of law and director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, who received her first dose of the vaccine on Tuesday.

Calling the injection “easy peasy,” Burnham said she had no concerns about potential side effects and, in fact, was eager get the vaccine.

“I certainly understand the concerns and apprehensions that people have in a range of communities, and particularly in the African American community,” she said. “But here I think it’s really clear that it’s the right thing to do for everyone. It’s not an individual choice, it’s a community and collective choice and I see it in that context.”

Tuesday’s vaccinations also previewed the launch of Northeastern’s “Vax the Pack” campaign, a university-wide push to promote the vaccine as a safe and important step in protecting the community by inoculating as many people as possible against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Northeastern, which is an official Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Provider, received 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine earlier this month and administered them to Phase One individuals: clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers at the campus testing centers, the sample analysis lab in Burlington, and the student health center, as well as police, fire and other first responders.

The next step involves vaccinating individuals 65 years and older, as well as individuals with high-risk medical conditions as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Michael Bessette, director of the vaccine clinic and an assistant clinical professor in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, said those vaccinations are crucial to combatting the deadly virus. “It’s important to get that group vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Bessette.

“Statistically, that’s what is going to save the most lives,” he continued. “They are the ones who are more likely to have issues with infection and they’re more likely to be hospitalized.”

Jack Malone, associate vice president of facilities, said he’s grateful for the chance to get vaccinated.

“A lot of my people have been here every day since March. Some of them already had the virus. So for me, it’s a smart decision,” said Malone, who also received a vaccine dose on Tuesday. “I truly believe that the vaccine is going to help us, and the more people who get it, the better off we are.”

Bessette encouraged anyone concerned about getting the vaccination to speak with their doctor and to take a look at the university’s resources.

“We encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Our overall goal is to have everyone at Northeastern completely vaccinated by the end of the spring semester,” he said.

For criminal justice professor and former Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Roderick Ireland, getting the vaccination was an easy choice.

“I think everyone should take advantage of it because we want to get past this pandemic and try to resume a normal way of living,” said Ireland, who received his first dose on Tuesday.  “We can’t do that until we have all of us safe and healthy again.”

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