UHD COVID-19 Forums Conclude With Emphasis on Vaccines, Social Protocols
Dr. Stephen J. Spann Shares How Vaccines and Basic Precautions Will Continue to Make a Difference
By Mark Kramer
As the University of Houston-Downtown begins to repopulate campus and the nation transitions back toward normalcy, Dr. Stephen J. Spann emphasized it is now more important than ever for individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.
Spann, Founding Dean of the University of Houston College of Medicine and UH Vice President for Medical Affairs, was the special guest at UHD’s COVID-19 Health, Safety and Vaccine Forum on April 29. The event was the third in a three-part series of discussions with some of the leading medical minds in the state hosted by UHD President Loren J. Blanchard.
“The numbers are encouraging and as more people become vaccinated, we’ll see the numbers of positive cases and hospitalizations go down,” Spann said. “We must continue to do everything we can to reduce the risk.”
According to Spann, state positivity rates are at five percent – which is a significant decrease from several months ago when they were high as 20 percent.
Spann said challenges remain as far as misinformation from different groups about the safety of the vaccine.
“We have to continue to find ways to better educate our communities to make sure that we address their concerns and are properly informed,” he said. “There are many myths floating out there. It’s our job to inform them how the benefits of the vaccine are greater than the risk.”
Dr. Spann also noted the need to ensure residents in underserved Houston area communities have access to the vaccines.
“For people in these areas, there can be challenges in getting appointments because of transportation or difficulty in the registration process,” he said. “Our local agencies must address those needs and find ways to get the vaccines to where the people are who are still in need.”
In addition to the vaccines, Spann encouraged students, faculty and staff not to let their guard down in regard to safety protocols as summer classes and programs begin — and following into the fall semester.
“We need to continue social distancing, wearing face masks and practicing good hygiene,” Dr. Spann said. “We are truly making progress, but we still need to follow these measures to not only ensure the safety of ourselves, but the safety of others.”
Spann was asked when herd immunity for COVID-19 will be reached. He replied when 75 to 80 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.
“Our hope is that by the end of this summer, we’ll be close to those numbers,” he added. “Next year for sure.”
Blanchard thanked Spann and others who participated in the forum series for their valuable insight and updates in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“The intent of the forums was to make sure that we are building public awareness and our panel of experts have provided information that will be useful as we repopulate campus,” the President said.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second-largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 60,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).
For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.