Emily Jundt Outside Pinnacle Bank Arena
Emily Jundt, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln master’s student, stands outside of Pinnacle Bank Arena. She received her first of two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on March 18.

The vaccine rollout plan reached a stage where staff and student-employees of universities such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska Omaha, are eligible to receive the vaccine. This marks another progression in the vaccination plan for the Cornhusker State. 

College-age students began lining up outside Christ Community Church March 16 for their COVID-19 vaccination. Signs reading “vaccination site” litter the parking lot of the church. 

Nate Andres, a residential assistant on Scott Campus at UNO, said he hopes the vaccine will increase student interactions on campuses so students can return to a normal way of life.

“I’m getting vaccinated so I can be more involved with students, and to really be more involved on campus,” Andres said. “That’s a big thing we’ve lost this year.”

Emily Jundt, a master’s student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said she was sick over Christmas break and doesn’t want to get COVID again.. 

“I’m excited to get vaccinated because I’m really sick and tired of COVID,” Jundt said.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services set the schedule for how COVID-19 vaccines are distributed. Educators and student-workers at UNL found out they could register for the vaccine on Feb. 16 and UNO on March 10.

Vaccination Timeline 1024x788 - Vaccine rollouts reach members of higher education, bring bright future
The vaccination timeline, which was published by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. It shows how the vaccine rollout is being handled in the state.

The DHHS introduced its vaccination timeline in February of this year. The timeline brings good news to those in Nebraska wishing for normal life to resume, as the general population will be eligible for the vaccine as early as April.

Lenae Reeves, an employee of the economics department at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said people in higher education especially need the vaccine.

“I think it’s vital,” Reeves said. “We need people to have the vaccine, or at the very least be able to have the resources to keep everybody safe and to make sure our students are safe, our faculty is safe, even the janitors who help us clean. Everybody is essential.”

Beyond higher education, Reeves said the vaccine is vital for a sense of normalcy to return to Nebraska and in the United States.

“It’s needed for our economy to be at a much better place, for us to be able to get back to work, to have community and for mental health and all of those things, they all mesh together,” Reeves said. “I hope some normalcy will come out of this.”

IMG 9363 1024x569 - Vaccine rollouts reach members of higher education, bring bright future
People enter Christ Community Church in Omaha to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

A major part of the college experience has been affected heavily by COVID-19. When classes went remote, Andres said that interpersonal interactions decreased. He hopes that the rollout of the vaccine will bring these interactions back sooner than later. 

“The biggest thing has been face-to-face interaction,” Andres said. “That has been very limited this year. Hopefully with the vaccine that can be increased. I know, usually, RAs (resident assistants) have events they put on every month. Those have been shut down for the safety of the students. With the vaccine, events will be back and really just involvement on campus.”

As vaccines continue to be distributed to people throughout Nebraska and the United States continue, the mood surrounding COVID-19 has started to shift..

“I can’t wait until the vaccines are given to everyone who needs it,” Jundt said. “Being able to get one gives me hope. We need to get back to normal. This is a huge step in that process.”

Francis Forte is a senior sports media & communication and journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He currently works as a student sports information director with the Nebraska Athletic Department serving as the media contact for the Husker women's gymnastics program.