The University of Wisconsin University Health Services started vaccinating members of its campus community who are over 65 and will continue to provide appointments for those who are eligible.
UHS was approved as a vaccinator last December and continues to vaccinate members of the UW community, UW Director of Research Communications, Kelly Tyrrell said.
“We’re not limited in providing vaccines to the 65 and older population on campus at this time, so it’s just a matter of when individuals choose to make those [vaccination] appointments,” Tyrrell said.
Several UW professors over 65 years old received the COVID-19 vaccine through UHS, including Dr. James Conway and Edwin E. Witte Professor of Political Economy David Weimer.
Weimer said UHS contacted him when he was eligible to be vaccinated. He received the Pfizer vaccine last month.
Conway described the feeling of getting the vaccine as one of relief and happiness.
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Before being vaccinated, Weimer said he did not have any reservations about the vaccination.
“No, I had no concerns,” Weimer said. “For someone my age, the risk of the infection is so much greater than any risk from the vaccine.”
Weimer said he did not feel any side effects from the first dose, but the second dose came with some muscle pain, which is normal according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Conway voiced similar sentiments and also felt no sense of concern before receiving the vaccine.
“I had no hesitation whatsoever,” Conway said. “Our exit ramp from this horrible ride we’re on is going to be vaccines and I’ve been following the research very closely and been involved in some of it and I was just excited to be an early opportunity member to be able to get it.”
Conway also discussed his hopes for a future in which companies could roll out vaccines quicker. He said a rapid distribution could be possible if there were less bureaucratic red lines to cross.
Weimer and Conway both expressed optimism regarding the chances of a return to in-person instruction in the 2021 fall semester as vaccines are provided to more of the UW population.
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Weimer said he hopes to be teaching in a classroom again in the next few months, emphasizing the importance of student vaccinations in order to have a more normal fall semester.
Conway said he could see the majority of UW students and staff obtaining a vaccine by July, however, he said the combination of better weather and a subsequent spike in outdoor activity could also facilitate a greater spread of the virus.
“I think the summer could look substantially more normal and I think the big thing is getting enough vaccines for people and then people being willing to get vaccinated,” Conway said. “But, if we can get people to do those things, I absolutely see in person classes.”
Though, Conway also said it is important to continue paying attention to the mutated strains of the virus and how they evolve over time. As of now, he said it appears as though vaccines which are being disseminated do protect against the virus.
Conway said though containing the various mutated strains of the virus is a central element in bouncing back from the pandemic, recovery also boils down to a willingness and ability to get citizens vaccinated.
“You know, I think just seeing how [other strains] evolve is going to be one piece of it,” Conway said. “And just seeing, you know, how much vaccine supply we have and and hoping that everybody’s willing to get vaccinated, but if those things go the way they seem to be going [sic] we could be back to relative normality by the time the fall semester starts.”