Honoring Shenandoah (copy)

Del. Bill Wiley, R-29th, presents Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons with a resolution from the House of Delegates honoring the school for its work in helping provide a COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic for the community earlier this year.

When Shenandoah University wrapped up its nearly five-month-long COVID-19 vaccination clinic at its James R. Wilkins Jr. Athletics & Events Center this spring, a total of 70,589 shots had been administered.

The clinic opened Jan. 12 and closed May 6, with more than 1,000 volunteers from SU involved.

When the Virginia General Assembly’s House of Delegates passed a resolution on Feb. 15 commending SU for helping to vaccinate the community, the private university was only a month into the public health initiative and partnership with Valley Health and the Lord Fairfax Health District.

Del. Bill Wiley, who represents Winchester and parts of Frederick County in the 29th District, introduced the resolution in the House of Delegates in February and presented it to SU President Tracy Fitzsimmons on Friday.

Before Wiley presented the commendation, several university staff and faculty volunteers shared their roles in helping coordinate the months-long initiative on campus.

Wiley thanked the volunteers for their involvement, adding that it took many people to make the clinic so successful.

The resolution states that SU “provided an invaluable service to the community by serving as a distribution site for the COVID-19 vaccine.” It further states that during this public health crisis, SU demonstrated “a collective spirit and sense of purpose that is an inspiration to all Virginians.”

Fitzsimmons told Wiley that the resolution “means so much” to the SU community as well as its vaccine clinic partners.

She said the vaccine clinic went so well that she’s now getting questions from community members about whether the university will offer a booster shot clinic.

Katie Sanders, director of pharmacy admissions and alumni affairs at SU, helped administer thousands of COVID-19 shots during the vaccine clinic.

“All I sort of felt was gratitude,” Sanders said. “Being able to use the training I received as an SU alum and now as an SU employee to help my community in such a meaningful way, I just felt a true sense of gratitude to be able to help in that way.”

Now that the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more businesses and schools are considering or requiring the vaccine for employment. That includes SU, which now requires most of its employees and students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Requiring vaccines is a “delicate matter,” Wiley told The Star on Friday.

He said he respects people’s individual liberty and choice to get vaccinated or not, but he also understands that businesses need to make certain choices to stay open, for example through vaccine requirements for their employees.

“I leave it up to the businesses,” Wiley said about vaccine requirements. “I don’t think it’s our position to go in and mandate businesses.”