Governor Tom Wolf, Penn State President Eric Barron and Nittany Lions football coach James Franklin spoke together at the Pegula Ice Arena Wednesday, encouraging students to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before they leave for the summer.
“Right now I know that this is maybe not something that is top of mind. Finals coming up, moving back home, finding summer jobs,” Wolf said. “But now that college students are eligible to get vaccinated, it is really important to make this a priority.”
Barron recognized those who have died from COVID-19. And he talked about students’ lost opportunities to do things they love.
“Such as coming together at Pegula or Beaver Stadium. Those things are now within our reach after 15 very long months,” Barron said.
Wolf said nearly 51% of Pennsylvanians have received at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But Wolf said the vaccinated skew older – 93% of Pennsylvanians 65 and older have at least one dose – and it’s now college students’ turn.
And, with Beaver Stadium as a backdrop for the press conference, Wolf also mentioned football as an incentive for getting vaccinated.
“I know that Penn State fans here in Happy Valley and throughout the commonwealth want to get back to supporting the Nittany Lions in person again. And I want to see those stands across the way filled as much as anyone here,” Wolf said. “But to make it safe for all of us to come together again we really need more Pennsylvanians to get the vaccine.”
Wolf announced on Tuesday that all COVID restrictions, except masking, would end on Memorial Day. That means it’s up to Penn State officials to decide how full to have Beaver Stadium on game day.
Franklin implied that decision would depend on vaccination levels.
“I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated,” Franklin said. “The more people who are vaccinated, the better chance we have to get back to 107,000 strong here in Beaver Stadium. Last season wasn’t the same without the support of our amazing fans at home and on the road.”
Overall vaccination levels in Centre County are similar to state levels. Wolf and Barron did not know how many Penn State students have been vaccinated, but, according to state data, 11,288 15 to 24-year-olds have been partially or fully vaccinated in Centre County as of April 30.
The vaccination clinic at the Bryce Jordan Center is open through May 10 and walk-ins are welcome. Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available.