David Reinert’s experience receiving his first COVID-19 vaccine inspired him to become a regular vaccination clinic volunteer. When he became eligible, Reinert got his shot at the Linn County Fairgrounds, which was the first large-scale clinic set up in the region.

“It was very smooth and well-organized. People walked away from there thinking, ‘Wow, what a great experience,’” Reinert said. “And it took a tremendous amount of people coming together to put on such an operation. I wanted to pay back those who had come before me to help get it up and running.”

Reinert, a senior faculty research assistant in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, lives in Corvallis and has worked at Oregon State for more than 40 years. He retired a couple of years ago, but came back part-time to work on science communication projects for the college. He’s spent much of the last year of working in the mornings, then hitting the local hiking trails with his dog Caiman.

After he received his first dose of the vaccine, Reinert volunteered to help with the Reser Stadium clinic operation in Corvallis. Many of the Reser volunteers were signing up in hopes of getting vaccinated, but often that meant they only worked one shift, and dozens of volunteers are needed for each clinic.

On Reinert’s first shift, he flagged down golf carts for people who needed rides. He’s kept coming back each week because he sees the value in the experience he gains during each shift, especially now that he’s a regular working the post-vaccine monitoring area.

“The more I volunteer, the more I pick up on, the more things I see to look for,” he said. “If you only work one shift, that knowledge is lost.”

Another reason Reinert likes to volunteer each week is a little more selfish, he said. After more than a year of isolation, he appreciates the opportunity to socialize with people again in a safe way.

“There isn’t a more grateful, joyous group than that group of people that have just gotten vaccinated,” he said. “You get to chat and joke with people while also keeping an eye on them.”

~Michelle Klampe