Answers to common questions about COVID-19 vaccines

News you can use: Your questions about COVID-19 vaccines, answered

SOU’s Student Health and Wellness Center is getting many questions about COVID-19 shots as the nationwide vaccination program gains momentum and potential availability of the vaccine on campus grows nearer. Current answers to some of the most common and relevant questions about the vaccines are covered here, including who should receive them and what to do next. Data about the vaccines is growing daily, so these answers may evolve or change.

Do I need to get vaccinated if I’ve already had COVID?

Yes. Being infected with COVID-19 may give you some natural immunity, but researchers aren’t sure how long that protection will last. Reinfection is possible and has happened, so you could be at risk for complications from the illness or for spreading the virus to others. It is strongly recommended that people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated. However, if you have had COVID-19 within the last three months, you can consider delaying vaccination until 90 days after your diagnosis, since reinfection is uncommon in the first 90 days after your first infection.

Will coronavirus mutations and variants reduce the vaccine’s protection?

At this time, researchers believe that both the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines provide protection against the main COVID-19 variants that were first identified in the U.K. and South Africa.

How soon after being vaccinated will I be protected?

It takes about two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine for your immune response to peak so that you have as much protection as possible.

After I get the first dose of a two-dose vaccine, do I still need to follow safety protocols?

Yes. You are not considered fully immunized until two weeks after the second dose, so during this time you can still get COVID and pass it to others. And even after your second dose, you still need to follow safety protocols.

After the first dose of a two-dose vaccine, do I still need to get a COVID test and quarantine if I develop symptoms or if I have been in contact with someone who has COVID?

Yes. The first dose of a two-dose vaccine provides only about 50 percent protection, so you can still get and transmit COVID. If you have had only one dose of vaccine and you develop symptoms or come into contact with someone who has COVID, then you will need to quarantine and get a COVID test.

If I’ve had a dose of one vaccine and then a different one becomes available, what should I do?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) discourages people from mixing vaccines unless there is an exceptional situation, such as a significant shortage of the vaccine you received first.

After I get the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, do I still need to follow safety protocols?

Yes. Experts agree that everyone needs to continue following standard COVID precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands and following CDC precautions regarding travel. This is a very effective vaccine, but about five out of every 100 people who receive it will not achieve immunity. We don’t know yet how likely it is that someone who is fully vaccinated can still get COVID without having symptoms and unwittingly infect others. Taking standard precautions helps protect you and those around you.

After my second shot, do I still need to quarantine or get a COVID test if I have been in contact with someone who has COVID or if I develop symptoms?

It depends. You are not required to quarantine or test if you meet all three of these criteria:

  • It has been at least two weeks since the second shot of a two-dose vaccine
  • It has been no more than 90 days since the second dose of vaccine
  • You have no symptoms

If you do meet all three criteria, then you do not have to quarantine or test. However, you will still need to monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days after being exposed. If you do develop symptoms in those 14 days, then you must quarantine.

If you do not meet all three criteria, then you need to quarantine.

After I’m fully vaccinated, can I hang out with my friends and family? Can I travel?

There are no definite answers to these questions yet. As more people get vaccinated and the infection rate drops, it will become safer for small groups of vaccinated people to gather. For the moment, until vaccines are more widely available, experts recommend that people practice social distancing whenever possible, continue to wear masks and avoid large groups. Remember, it is still possible for someone who has been vaccinated to become infected and to possibly transmit the virus.

As vaccines become more widely available, travel will become less risky. However, not everyone will be vaccinated, the vaccines are not 100 percent effective and variants have developed that may be more transmissible, so air travel will continue to be riskier than other activities. The CDC regularly updates its travel recommendations, so check its website for updates.

Will getting vaccinated cause me to test positive for COVID?

No. None of the vaccines that are currently approved or that are being tested in the U.S. can cause you to test positive on a viral test. These are the standard tests used to see whether you currently have COVID-19 infection.

It is possible that you would test positive on an antibody (blood) test, but those tests are used only to see whether you have ever been previously infected with COVID-19.

How long will vaccine immunity last? Will booster doses or annual vaccines be needed in the future?

Researchers aren’t sure how long immunity from the vaccine will last and whether a booster dose will be needed.

SOU will skip shortened football season

SOU opts out of spring football season

(Ashland, Ore.) – The Southern Oregon University football team will forgo the shortened spring football season and look toward the fall, SOU Director of Athletics Matt Sayre informed Frontier Conference officials on Friday, Feb. 12.

“We don’t make this decision lightly, and know there will be some disappointed Raiders,” Sayre said. “But the goal is a quality, high-level playing experience, and we feel much better about our ability to provide that six months from now.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced earlier in the week that the Oregon Health Authority would revise guidelines that had halted full-contact sports in the state during the pandemic, but the timeline for a return to regular activity remains uncertain. The first contest on SOU’s four-game Frontier schedule – which was reduced from the standard 10-game slate after being postponed in the fall – was set for March 20.

“We feel we are not prepared for the rigors and intensity of a college football season, largely because our players haven’t tackled, blocked or had contact of any kind in 450 days,” Sayre said. “It’s only fair to make this decision now for our Frontier Conference partners to be able to reschedule and adjust travel plans, and for our student-athletes to have a definitive direction.

“We’ve had conversations with colleagues at Portland State University, University of Montana and other regional institutions about their decisions to opt out of competition this spring and gained good insight into the value of a clear direction with an emphasis on the fall of 2021.”

SOU will plan to conduct a regular spring practice schedule. Each of the team’s seniors will have the option of returning in the fall.

“It’s an extremely difficult decision and heartbreaking for our seniors who are looking at options for after college, but it is the decision that’s in the best interest of our program,” said Raiders head coach Charlie Hall. “We can prepare our team in a traditional manner and be ready for the fall.”

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New storage facility checks the solar and recycling boxes

New SOU storage facility is doubly green

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has completed a new storage facility at Raider Stadium that addresses sustainability on two fronts – it includes the university’s ninth array of solar panels, and the structure itself was created from recycled shipping containers.

The new facility, which will be used for storage of Athletic Department equipment and supplies, is SOU’s second net-positive building – the renewable energy it produces is greater than what it consumes. The first was SOU’s Student Recreation Storage Building, built in 2018 with solar installed in 2019.

“SOU is wholly committed to the pursuit of sustainability in both construction and day-to-day operations,” said Rebecca Walker, the university’s sustainability and recycling manager. “This project demonstrates that when we think differently and creatively, sustainability can make both financial and environmental sense.

The new storage facility’s solar panel installation was paid for by a fund that is fed in part by other energy savings projects on campus. The fund receives money from sources including energy savings incentives and credits from the university’s natural gas company, recycling receipts and other sustainability-related income sources.

The building itself – located behind the stadium’s east bleachers – is made from six recycled railroad shipping containers. The university repurposed three containers that we already on campus and purchased another three for $10,500 from Oregon Cargo Containers of Grants Pass.  The solar panels, installed by True South Solar of Ashland, will produce 49.68 kilowatts of electricity – enough to power about five typical homes.

“Athletics was in need of safe and adequate storage,” said SOU Athletic Director Matt Sayre. “What was designed for that purpose by the SOU Facilities Management and Planning Department and architect Matt Small – using rail boxcars and a plan to collect solar energy from the roof of that structure – is an asset Raiders can be proud of.”

The new project pushes SOU’s total solar energy generation capability to more than 430 kilowatts. The university has a total of seven other solar arrays on six buildings on the Ashland campus and one at the Higher Education Center in Medford.

Output from SOU’s solar facilities is typically fed back into the electrical grid and credited to SOU’s accounts, reducing the university’s utility bills.

SOU’s first solar installation was a 24-panel, 6-kilowatt array that was placed on Hannon Library in 2000 and it still generating electricity at 70 to 80 percent efficiency.


The Indigenous Gardens Network will promote access to "first foods" by Native Americans

Indigenous Gardens Network receives Oregon Cultural Trust grant

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University, tribal partners and others have received a $35,483 grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to initiate the Indigenous Gardens Network – a hub for conversation and coordination around traditional food gathering areas throughout southwestern Oregon.

The Indigenous Gardens Network is intended to restore areas where “first foods” and other culturally significant items can be cultivated, harvested and made accessible to Indigenous people. First foods are plant and animal species that Native Americans traditionally relied upon for subsistence, medicine and ceremonial uses. The network that will be funded by the new Oregon Cultural Trust grant will pull together new and existing resources to address urgent issues such as food security, climate change and Indigenous food sovereignty.

“The Indigenous Gardens Network centers the knowledge and expertise of Native people and communities and approaches all projects with a robust sense of accountability to them,” said Brook Colley, chair of the SOU Native American Studies Program and principal investigator on the OCT grant.

“(The network) will be Indigenous-led, driven by their needs and solutions, and based on mutual respect,” Colley said.

The project is a regional partnership that brings together diverse partners including tribes, educators, conservation organizations and land managers or owners to address barriers to first food access and cultivation. The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Vesper Meadow Education Program and other regional partners are joining SOU on the project.

A history of genocide, forced treaties and removal from ancestral lands created a pervasive, detrimental legacy for Indigenous people, many of whom remain displaced from southwestern Oregon. Several tribes from the region were forcibly relocated to Siletz and Grand Ronde reservations during the mid-1800s, and descendants continue to live there as citizens of the Grand Ronde and Siletz tribes.

Many members of those tribes have not re-established the annual food-tending practices of their ancestors for reasons including a lack of access to public and private land, scarcity of financial and human resources, concerns over safety and prejudice, divergence between Indigenous and Western perceptions of land use, and degradation of Indigenous gardens caused by ranching and other industries.

The Oregon Cultural Trust grant will enable the partner organizations to initiate the Indigenous Gardens Network, while additional funding sources will be sought for follow-up efforts. The network will work to re-establish specific first foods, medicines, materials and landscapes in southwestern Oregon, and to engage both private and public partners in supporting tribal access to – and stewardship of – critical cultural resources.

The Indigenous Gardens Network supports tribes and other Native communities in building sustainable food systems that improve health and well-being, strengthen food security and increase their control over Indigenous agriculture and food networks.

The Indigenous Gardens Network is also supported through the SOU Foundation. Those wishing to contribute to this work may make a donation online or contact Brook Colley ( for more information about the Indigenous Gardens Network. Information on donating to the Oregon Cultural Trust is available on the organization’s website.


Food drive seeks donations to SOU Student Food Pantry

Employees and others urged to help SOU students by participating in governor’s food drive

SOU President Linda Schott has reached out to the university’s employees, asking them to help reduce food insecurity on campus by donating as they are able to the annual Governor’s State Employee Food Drive, which runs through February. All food or money contributed at SOU will go directly to the Student Food Pantry.

“I recognize that we are all in difficult times, but for those of you who are able, please consider helping the Student Food Pantry reach its goal of raising $5,000 this month to help sustain its charitable mission through the year,” the president wrote in an email to employees.

A 2018 survey in the “Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition” found that 43.5 percent of U.S. college and university students face food insecurity – a much higher rate that the 13 percent of households nationwide that were found in an earlier study. Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon – a Portland nonprofit that works with students, organizations, schools and legislators – polled 197 students last year from 11 public colleges and universities, and found that 71 percent had experienced food insecurity in the previous 12 months.

“The most difficult thing about college should be the academic coursework, but it isn’t,” one student from Columbia Gorge Community College told the nonprofit. “The most difficult thing is trying to survive without incurring soul-crushing debt or breaking yourself by working extra jobs to make ends meet. ‘Choosing’ between buying books for your class, medicine you need to live and food to eat isn’t really a choice – it’s just picking the least horrible path.”

SOU’s Student Food Pantry provided 195 bags of 10 food items each to more than 90 students facing food insecurity during fall term 2020.

Employees and others who wish to help SOU students by donating to the Governor’s State Employee Food drive will have three options this year:

  • Non-perishable food donations can be dropped off at the Stevenson Union’s Welcome Desk anytime from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Items the Food Pantry could use the most include hearty soups (both meat and vegetarian), instant oatmeal, non-dairy shelf-stable milk, canned beans, canned vegetables and granola bars. Contact the Student Food Pantry at with any questions.
  • Anyone can make a contribution via a one-time donation by visiting the Food Pantry website. The form is always available and donations are accepted throughout the year.
  • SOU employees are encouraged to sign up for monthly payroll contributions to provide ongoing support for the Student Food Pantry. You may fill out a Payroll Deduction Form and send the electronic copy directly to the SOU Foundation at by Feb. 28. Those completing the form should select “other” and fill in “SOU Food Pantry” as the fund.
Philosopher Graham Harman to lecture in Campus Theme series

SOU’s 2021 Campus Theme takes on “Thinking Uncertainty” and “Justified Untrue Belief”

SOU’s Campus Theme lecture series – which has focused each academic year since 2009-10 on a specific concept – is taking on the idea of “Thinking Uncertainty” this year and continue on Wednesday, Feb. 10, with an online lecture on “Justified Untrue Belief” by prominent philosopher Graham Harman of the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Knowledge has been defined since the days of Plato as justified true belief – that the conditions of truth, belief and justification equate to knowledge. Harman’s lecture will put a contemporary twist on that description by examining justified untrue beliefs.

Harman maintains that knowledge cannot be “justified true belief” because – according to his philosophical concept of “object-oriented ontology” – a thing cannot be simultaneously justified and true. His concept of object-oriented ontology, or the nature of being, holds that no two entities – including human thought – can make contact without mediation from a third. He suggests there can be “justified untrue belief,” including science; and there can be “unjustified true belief,” including both philosophy and art.

Harman’s lecture will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday on a Zoom webinar at

Other events on the schedule for this year’s Campus Theme series include:

  • “Uncertainty and the Buddhist Perspective” on Thursday, Feb. 25, with Dan Le, a full-time volunteer with the Compassionate Service Society in Anaheim, California; Le is a practitioner in both the Zen and Huayan traditions of Buddhism. “
  • A Pathway to Peace: Making Friends with Uncertainty,” on Thursday, March 4, with Fred Grewe, an ordained minister who has companioned with almost 3,000 dying patients over the past 13 years at Providence Hospice in Medford.

Each year’s Campus Theme series aims to create opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community members to engage in intellectually stimulating conversations. The Campus Themes address big questions, enable deep understanding and broaden the intellectual horizons of participants.

This year’s theme of “Thinking Uncertainty” picks up where last year’s theme of “Uncertainty” left off. Campus Themes in previous years have ranged from “Civility” to “Race” to “Truth.”

Harman, Wednesday’s speaker, holds the titles of distinguished professor of philosophy and Liberal Arts Program coordinator at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. He is the author of 18 books, most recently “Art and Objects” (Polity, September 2019).

He received his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College, his master’s degree from Penn State University and his doctorate from DePaul University. He has taught at American University in Cairo and the European Graduate School, and has been a visiting faculty member at the University of Amsterdam, University of Turin and Yale University.

"All My Relations" is a virtual spin-off program for Native youth and families

SOU retreat for Native American youth spins off multigenerational program

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Konaway Nika Tillicum wasn’t what anyone expected last summer, when the seven-day academic and cultural enrichment residential camp for Native American Youth was shifted to a virtual version of itself because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then the totally unexpected happened: the Oregon Community Foundation, a longtime supporter of the Konaway program, reached out to its organizers at SOU to find out if there were any plans to continue supporting pre-college Native youth in Oregon at the conclusion of the one-week program. Serious conversations began, the foundation offered a new $50,000 grant and a virtual offshoot program for Konaway students and their family members was born.

“All My Relations” – the English translation of the Chinook Trade Jargon phrase, “Konaway Nika Tillicum” – was launched on Oct. 28 with seven students and has rapidly grown to include more than 33 students and their families in six states. There are currently 19 students from seven Oregon counties in the program. Another eight participants live along the Oregon border in Washington or California and have tribal connections to the region. The program runs through fall, winter and spring terms, offering biweekly, virtual longhouse gatherings to provide academic encouragement and support, and discuss everything from beading moccasin ornaments to traditional story-telling to maintaining cultural identity during a pandemic.

“It was clear that students and families were hungry for this kind of connection and assistance, and when we were approached by OCF it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get something going,” said Katherine Gosnell, assistant director of youth programs at SOU.

“OCF is keenly aware of the disproportionate impacts of COVID on Native communities and were seeking ways to address the situation,” said Rachel Jones, SOU’s director of outreach and engagement. “We shared with OCF the wish list of ideas that the Konaway team had created during the virtual Konaway, for ways that we could continue working with the students.”

Jones and her staff put together an outline and projected cost for the program, and the foundation backed the proposal with a quick-turnaround grant.

“It was a great testament to OCF’s exceptional role across the state during this challenging year – they were extremely responsive, had a quick turnaround and eliminated lengthy application processes,” Jones said.

All My Relations was originally seen as a one-time project, but has now transitioned into a pilot for what organizers hope will be an ongoing program to support and enhance the original Konaway residential offerings. Organizers at SOU are seeking additional funding through grants and donations from foundations, organizations and individuals to support a second year of All My Relations beginning in fall 2021.

“Not only are we serving Native American Youth but we are serving their families, their friends, and their communities as well,” said Tamara Ellington, an SOU adjunct instructor and residential coordinator for the Konaway program.

“We have students that join with their parents, their foster parents, their closest trusting neighbors with good internet connectivity, their cousins, their friends, and their elders,” she said. “This is truly a multigenerational program modeled and influenced by the original Konaway Nika Tillicum Native American Youth Academy.”


The Veterans Resource Center at SOU has been awarded a grant that will enable enhanced services to the university's veterans

SOU Veterans Resource Center awarded grant to enhance services

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Veterans Resource Center at Southern Oregon University has been awarded a $68,254 grant from the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs to help improve outcomes for student veterans at the university.

SOU is one of 14 Oregon universities and community colleges to receive the one-time veterans resource grants, which range from $25,830 to $79,290. A total of $900,000 was awarded.

“A post-secondary degree or course of study at a technical or vocation college is a critical gateway for many veterans to transition out of the military into a successful civilian career,” said Kelly Fitzpatrick, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “But unlike most students, veterans are often older and have very different life experiences from their peers.

“Campus veteran resource centers provide critical veteran resources and offer support networks with other student veterans, which can drastically improve outcomes and help ensure success for student veterans in their educational endeavors and future careers.”

The Veterans Resource Center at SOU provides support to student veterans, current service members, and their families during their transition from military service to college life, and as they complete their educational goals. The grant will provide funding for orientation and outreach, and help the SOU center create a cultural competence training course, hire a graduate assistant and add new programs to support veterans and military families.

“It was a lot of work, but we are excited and humbled to receive this grant,” said Kevin Stevens, coordinator for the SOU Veterans Center.

“The SOU Veterans Center is more connected to the region and campus than ever before, and this grant will help us take our outreach programming to the next level,” he said.

The grant program is intended to augment existing campus resources by paying for innovative projects or programs that will improve the lives of student veterans.

A Veterans Affairs committee evaluated the proposal of each college and university that applied for the grants, approving some projects and declining others. Most projects in the SOU proposal were approved.

Other institutions receiving the Veterans Resource grants are the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Oregon Institute of Technology and Western Oregon University, and Blue Mountain, Chemeketa, Clackamas, Klamath, Lane, Mount Hood, Rogue and Southwestern Oregon community colleges.

More information about SOU’s veteran-affiliated programs is available at


wildfire respite is moving to Stevenson Union

SOU exploring all options to help students, employees and community through wildfires

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been exploring for the past week how its facilities and resources can best benefit students, employees and community members who have been affected by the recent wildfires.

SOU is currently offering daily respite and support from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Lithia Motors Pavilion for those who need to regroup in an air-conditioned facility with bathrooms, water and WiFi. Those services will transition to the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room on Thursday, Sept. 17.

The university’s Student and Family Housing units are fully occupied and its residence halls are already beginning to receive a reduced number of new, appropriately distanced students for fall term, which begins Sept. 23. Emergency shelter is being provided in SOU’s remaining, habitable residence halls for employees and students who have been displaced from their homes. A fire relief fund has been initiated for those who would like to make donations to support SOU students affected by the wildfires.

SOU representatives are also actively working with city, county, state and federal agencies to determine whether additional shelter can be provided in other SOU facilities. However, the university must be able to ensure the well-being of those housed on its campus and is urging patience as those options are pursued.

All wildfire responses by the university are in accordance with state guidelines – including social distancing and face-covering requirements – that have been imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.


SOU pivots toward remote classes

SOU remains flexible in pandemic, pivots toward remote courses

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is making use of the flexibility built into its reopening plan, pivoting to a fall academic schedule in which most – but not all – classes will be delivered remotely. The shift is due to the continued spread of COVID-19 in southern Oregon and statewide, and will benefit from the university’s growing familiarity with online and remote classes.

“I shared some months ago that our reopening strategy would be flexible and allow for these kinds of adjustments,” SOU President Linda Schott said in a message to students. “I remain committed to delivering a customized and flexible ‘hybrid’ learning experience this fall, balancing academic excellence with our community’s health and safety.”

The president pointed out that COVID-19 continues to spread in southern Oregon and much of the state, and that SOU recently learned of some initial cases involving members of its campus community.

The university has updated its safety and health protocols – including strict capacity standards for indoor spaces and a requirement for face coverings both inside and outside where adequate social distancing is not possible – to exceed CDC guidance. SOU is working with Oregon’s other public universities, community partners and Jackson County Public Health to plan for and respond to positive COVID-19 cases when they occur.

“I want our students to continue their studies in safety,” President Schott said. “I want SOU employees to continue serving our students without putting their health in jeopardy. And I want our neighbors and community members to recognize that we are moving ahead with appropriate caution.”

The university’s planning teams have worked to develop educational and student experiences that ensure both academic progression and improved quality of remote delivery courses. Many faculty members are taking advantage of professional development opportunities this summer to enhance learning environments for students in the coming academic year. SOU’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning has helped upgrade the university’s online and remote offerings.


About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit