Chowan University hosts COVID-19 discussion

Published 4:48 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

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By Lou Ann Gilliam

University Relations

MURFREESBORO – Entering Turner Auditorium in McDowell Columns Hall, students viewed the large screen with the familiar picture of the spiky sphere virus, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. Students were there to attend the presentation, “Viruses and Vaccines: Are the Rumors True?” This session was led by Chowan Department of Biology Department professors Dr. Lia Walker and Dr. Torrence Gill.

Dr. Walker joined the faculty this semester as Assistant Professor of Biology. She holds a Ph.D. from East Carolina in Interdisciplinary Biological Science with a concentration in biomedical sciences (virology). Dr. Gill, Assistant Professor of Biology, received a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in Molecular Biology. With their expertise, these professors gave factual information about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Chowan University Department of Biology Department professors Dr. Lia Walker and Dr. Torrence Gill led a presentation and discussion entitled, “Viruses and Vaccines: Are the Rumors True?” Contributed Photo

In discussing vaccines, Dr. Walker likened them to “life jackets, seatbelts, and helmets which offer protection.” She continued sharing through her slides that the vaccines “offer an outstanding layer of protection from worst-case scenario possibilities” such as hospitalization and death.

After her remarks, Dr. Gill discussed that even though statistics are low for severe disease in young people, being vaccinated “reduces spread to loved ones,” noting that we must “protect each other.”

After the formal presentation, Dr. Mitch Henke, Professor of Graphic Communications, served as moderator, fielding questions from the audience. Students were curious about allergic reactions and side effects. Dr. Walker shared what may cause an allergic reaction and safety measures around vaccine administration. Both professors shared their side effects to their injections, which were very mild. Dr. Walker noted the body’s immunity ramping up caused these effects.

Ahead of this presentation, Dr. Ella Benson, Dean of Accessibility Services, sent a survey to the entire campus asking individuals to submit questions or share rumors they have heard regarding vaccines. One rumor received was regarding infertility. Dr. Walker addressed this, sharing that “there is no substantial scientific evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines” affect fertility. Narratively, she noted of a vaccinated couple she knows recently had a healthy baby.

After the presentation, Dr. Gill and Dr. Walker were available to continue answering questions from students. They also encouraged students to email or stop by their offices for further discussion.

Dr. Ella Benson organized the event after recognizing student concerns about vaccines and misinformation on social media.

“My aim was for us to provide a calm environment where our expert faculty could present factual information about COVID-19 and vaccines,” shared Dr. Benson. “I was very pleased with our students’ questions, and I appreciate Dr. Walker and Dr. Gill leading this presentation.”

Dr. Benson hopes to organize more sessions like this next semester.