Amid an increase in North Carolina’s vaccine supply, college campuses are among the new vendors added to the immunization landscape. All adults can make an appointment in less than two weeks, and at some universities, students have already flocked to newly established clinics.
UNCW on Thursday served 300 inaugural injections of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at its Burney Center. Appointments were made on a first come, first served basis after an email announcing the snaps was sent to all students, faculty and staff. The UNCW estimated that around 200 shots went to students, the rest to faculty and staff.
the UNCW website was created to operate independently of the vaccination apparatus run by the New Hanover County government. Katrin Wesner-Harts, the university’s top health official, said the clinic would only serve members of the UNCW community, at least initially.
“We will mainly do – especially when we get to group 4 – our students in residence. We are certainly capable of doing community, and are certainly ready to do so, ”Wesner-Harts told Port City Daily. “But the biggest benefit of UNCW for the community is to remove our population from the rest of the community so that they can focus on others.”
The arrival of vaccines on the UNCW campus comes during a week in which the university has diagnosed nearly 50 cases of the novel coronavirus.
Testing is exponentially more prevalent this semester than it was last fall. Following the purchase of 100,000 rapid Covid-19 antigen tests, UNCW’s single-day testing volume exceeded that of last fall’s testing weeks. While UNCW hoped to use approximately 6,500 rapid tests per week in its surveillance testing program, the initiative has typically achieved between 2,500 and 3,500 tests per week.
Elsewhere across North Carolina, public universities are taking action. UNC-Chapel Hill will begin vaccinating students on March 31. Students will be able to register for online appointments.
“At the moment, we plan to receive 2,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine next week,” a UNC spokesperson wrote in an email. “The center will have the capacity to deliver up to 2,000 doses per week, pending our allocation from the state. Once students are eligible, they can receive a vaccine at the Carolina Student Vaccination Clinic or any other off-campus vaccination site. ”
North Carolina State University opened a vaccination clinic on March 24. This week, the university received 300 doses of J&J and 300 doses of Moderna. Appointments are advertised online.
“Our pre-registration process determines eligibility and we go through the waitlist based on those responses,” a North Carolina state spokesperson wrote in an email.
A spokesperson for UNC-Charlotte wrote to the Port City Daily: “The university is currently working on a plan to safely and effectively assist students with the vaccination process and encourage all students to be vaccinated. More details will be announced soon.
At East Carolina University, immunization appointments were previously advertised with emails to eligible students, and are now communicated to the entire student body. ECU also received 300 doses of J&J this week.
Chapel-Hill announced on March 5 that university leaders were planning a “more typical residential college experience in Carolina, with the goal of a full return to in-person teaching.” UNCW and NC state followed suit, both releasing similar statements days later, posing a return to a “typical” and “normal” campus experience this coming fall.
The decline and evolution of federal guidelines have previously led to the demotion of students in the priority groups of the NC vaccination plan. The original drafts of the vaccination strategy, dating from November, show a four-phase approach. College students originally fell into phase 3.
Subsequent adaptations to the plan changed the design, with all four phases being dropped in exchange for a new five group layout. University students living on campus were placed in the latter part of group 4.
The 300 immunization appointments made available at UNCW this week were filled in six minutes, according to WECT.
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