ASCC Encourages Vaccinations for Students and Staff

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC

Published on Sept 9, 2021

Nurses from Public Health staffed a vaccination table during registration for the fall 2021 semester at the American Samoa Community College. The College has joined in the “Protect as One” movement by offering incentives for students to get their COVID-19 shots and supporting employees who seek vaccination for themselves or their families. Currently, 81% of the College’s employees are fully vaccinated. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

During registration for the fall 2021 semester, staff from the American Samoa Community College’s Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources (ACNR) division held drawings for prizes, open to students who had received their first or second COVID-19 vaccination. The College has joined in the “Protect as One” movement by offering incentives for students to get their COVID-19 shots and supporting employees who seek vaccination for themselves or their families. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

With its fall 2021 semester now underway, the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) has joined the forefront of the government’s “Protect As One” movement by providing incentives for both its students and staff to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations if they have not already done so. Since this past summer, ASCC has collaborated with the Department of Public Health (DOH) to make vaccinations available on campus to students during the registration periods for the summer and fall semesters. Additionally, as of July, 81% of the College’s employees had been fully vaccinated, and ASCC has put in place initiatives to reach its goal of 98% by December of this year.

To date, 504 students who enrolled in the summer and fall 2021 semesters at ASCC have received their second COVID-19 vaccination, while an additional 83 have received their first shot. DOH nurses set up a vaccination table at ASCC while summer registration took place, and again during the recent registration for fall. During the fall registration, ASCC provided incentives for students receiving their first or second COVID shots. These included a $20 gift certificate for the ASCC Le Bookstore for students taking their first shot, and a $50 registration fee waiver for those receiving their second. While the DOH administered the shots, the College’s Student Government Association and staff from Student Support and Learning Services assisted with keeping track of students taking advantage of the free service and facilitated their receiving the incentives being offered. All students receiving a first or second shot also received tickets for raffles featuring additional prizes that the SGA will hold on a monthly basis through November.

In addition to ASCC’s vaccination promotion for students, its Human Resources Office (HRO) has formulated policies to assist employees with becoming fully vaccinated. ASCC employees may receive a full-day leave of absence to receive COVID vaccinations, as well as for escorting their dependents who require parental consent and other family members for this purpose. The College will grant this leave of absence until the employee has taken both shots, and thereafter he/she will provide HRO with documentation of the vaccinations.

To monitor these initiatives, ASCC has formed vaccination focus groups that will coordinate logistics and manage documentation during the current vaccination initiatives and any related activities which may take place in the near future. The focus groups consist of personnel from the ASCC programs, services and governance committees that the College utilizes to respond to emergencies. At least one representative from the ASCC Resources Committee, Registration Committee, Nursing Department, Health and Human Services, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and Area Health Education Center, along with the Dean of Academic Affairs and Dean of Student Services, comprise the focus groups.

As stated in the ASCC HRO Plan for COVID-19 Vaccination Initiative, as American Samoa prepares to re-open its borders, the College will continue to work closely with the COVID Task Force to comply with its mandates and to ensure the health and safety of its employees, students and working environment. Extensive preparation has taken place for instructional services to be provided entirely online should the need arise, though while the Territory remains COVID-free, the current ASCC ratio of in-person instruction is 80% with a 20% online component.

For more information on the programs and services offered at ASCC, visit the College’s web page at www.amsamoa.edu.