Hundreds of Cal Maritime cadets, faculty, and staff turned up to receive a vaccine to protect them against Covid-19 on Monday, March 8. By day’s end,  455 injections of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson had been administered in timed appointments at the Physical Education and Athletic Center (PEAC). Nearly 300 more are expected to be administered on Thursday March 11, the second day-long campus vaccine event. Both events are being staffed primarily by campus volunteers who helped check people in, move them to vaccine stations, and then to an observation period. 

“This is a great day,” said Cal Maritime Police Chief Donny Gordon, who was instrumental in working to bring the vaccine supply to campus. “After all the tedious work by the entire team it’s exhilarating to finally see this thing come to fruition. I’m happy that the people who need this shot are actually getting access to it.” 

Since starting the academic year in late August of 2020, the Cal Maritime campus has remained open for some face-to-face instruction and administrative work. On campus cases of Covid -19 have been minimal to date, numbering fewer than ten. For months, a vaccination subcommittee of the Health and Safety Task Force has been working with Solano County to secure an adequate supply of the vaccine for the entire community.  

Campus physician Dr. Grace Chou, part of the vaccination subcommittee, was jubilant after the first day of vaccine adminstration. “It was a huge team effort and we made it happen. I think we should all feel really proud.  It was so heartwarming to see it all -- it was a beautiful thing,” she shared. 

Cadet with thumbs up after receiving vaccine

Cadets lined up stoically in their required uniforms. 

Lance Roche, a sophomore and Marine Transportation major seemed relieved to get his shot. “I’m looking forward to getting back to life normally,” he said, “and for everyone else too.” 

All participants were informed they would have to continue with Covid-safe precautions, including masking, social distancing, and handwashing for the foreseeable future. The CDC advises that it can take up to 30 days for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be fully effective. 

There is plenty of motivation to continue to keep the campus free of the virus. Cal Maritime is planning an in-person commencement on May 15. Though attendance is limited to graduates for now, it will be live-streamed for family and friends. 

In addition, two training cruises aboard TS Golden Bear have been scheduled for the summer. An essential part of the curriculum, the cruises give cadets opportunity to test their knowledge at sea. Each is 45 days long, and all participants are required to get the vaccine prior to departure. Last summer, the training cruises had to be canceled due to the pandemic. 

President Tom Cropper called the two on-campus vaccination events “historic” at Cal Maritime. “We are,” he said, “beginning to see some light ahead.”

Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus serves nearly 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. The new oceanography degree program launched in the fall of 2020. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.