Weekly press conference with Dr. Drew Miller

Photo courtesy of Scott Morris

As students and faculty continue to navigate their way through the continuous adjusting of life on campus with the coronavirus present, there continue to be numerous changes as to the state of transmission and other related news. To address any potential changes, associate vice president of Student Affairs Dr. Andrew Miller held his weekly press conference on the morning of Monday, Oct. 25.

One of the key factors that relate to people coming forward and testing positive for the virus is the level of transmission in any given area.

In recent times, Montgomery and Walker county, as well as Sam Houston’s campus have seen numerous changes to how much the virus moves from person to person when in proximity.

“Both Montgomery and Walker county continue to be in substantial transmission within the past two weeks,” Miller explained. “Sam Houston itself has dropped to moderate transmission levels for the first time in several months relating to high vaccination rates on campus with trends continuing to point towards the declining transmission.”

As transmissions continue to drop through efforts set in place like an increase in vaccinated individuals, as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recent approvals on vaccinations.

“One of the major news to occur this week was the CDC’s approval for booster shots for both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which means all three major vaccines have now been approved,” Miller said. “Currently that recommendation is still for people aged 65 and up or for those who have an underlying health condition.”

The CDC has also released new information regarding receiving booster shots. At the beginning of the coronavirus vaccinations being introduced to the general public, those who received Moderna as their first dose must then receive Moderna for their second, and the same goes for Pfizer.

“There has also been an approval of a mixing and matching strategy meaning if you received an initial Moderna vaccination, you can receive a Pfizer booster and vice versa,” Miller said. “It has also been suggested that anyone who received a J&J vaccine should receive a Moderna or Pfizer booster shot to receive a high volume of immunity.”

As flu season continues, the on-campus SHSU Student Health Center will be hosting another clinic to provide free shots to students. Although there has always been a concern for the flu, that concern has been raised since this flu season will be the first where people meet in larger groups since protocols on social distancing have been loosened.

“The health center will be doing another flu shot clinic on Tuesday, Nov. 2 for students with information on the clinic being found on the Health Center’s website as well as the COVID-19 website,” Miller explained. “It is another great opportunity for students to get this year’s flu shot, and having it is an extra way to make sure we are protecting ourselves.”

On-campus, there have been some concerns regarding fraternities and sororities and the spread of the coronavirus amongst members. Such organizations have been known to host events and parties that consist of multiple students in usually very crowded enclose spaces.

“We monitor any situation in which we have confirmed positive cases, whether on an individual or group basis,” Miller stated. “At this point, we do not have any confirmed cases where there are more than two connected, meaning, we are ok right now but we will continue to monitor the situation.”

As we head into the latter portion of the year, there is a mandate that by December, all contracted employees need to be fully vaccinated.

“The mandate will affect some areas; the university has been reviewing some contracts that we have with outside vendors, which will mostly be the case when it comes to our grant-related research since grants come from the state level,” Miller explained. “Currently, we have not identified anyone that might fall under that category, but what we have heard from legal counsel is that it pertains to individuals working within a specific contract and not the entire university as an entity.”

As life with the pandemic continues to change, it is important to ensure that people within the community are doing what is necessary to keep themselves safe so society does not backtrack on the significant progress that has been made on decreasing the level of threat the virus holds.

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