Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility is now open to anyone 16 and older. With only around a month left in UW’s spring semester, one big concern is how to get vaccines distributed to the college students who want them before many students return home for the summer.
UW Spokesperson Meredith McGlone said in an email to The Badger Herald over 15,000 people have received on-campus vaccinations through UHS to date, with half of that number being students and the other half being employees.
UW recently encouraged students to consider COVID-19 vaccination sites outside of University Health Services for vaccinations, stating UHS continues to receive a limited vaccine supply and cannot currently offer appointments to all eligible individuals.
“UHS has the capacity to vaccinate more students than we are currently able to due to the limited vaccine supply we are receiving,” McGlone said. “That’s why we’re encouraging students to seek vaccines off-campus as well as on-campus, to ensure that as many students as possible can be fully vaccinated by the end of the semester.”
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McGlone said students should keep in mind if they are receiving a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), they should plan to return to the same vaccine provider location for both shots. McGlone said if an individual thinks they may leave the region before getting a second shot, they should consider seeking a one-dose vaccine — Johnson & Johnson — or contact the vaccine providers in the area they will be traveling to to ensure only a second dose will be administered.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an individual can receive a second dose up to 42 days after the first.
UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank has been advocating for an increase in vaccine supply, according to McGlone. Blank requested a large supply of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine from WI DHS to arrive in late April and early May, which would be distributed more quickly than the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
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Associate Professor and Faculty Director in the School of Medicine and Public Health Ajay Sethi said in an email to The Badger Herald UHS is just one of many vaccinators in the state and UHS — just like all other vaccinators — cannot control its week-to-week allocation of vaccines provided by the state. Hence, the demand for vaccines from UHS still exceeds supply.
“The sheer number of vaccinators in the state has been cited as a reason why Wisconsin has done well getting shots into arms,” Sethi said.
McGlone said it is important for students and employees to be aware of all vaccine site options available, which is why UHS has consistently encouraged students to seek vaccines both on and off-campus to maximize their chance of getting an appointment as soon as possible.
McGlone said UHS sent a message to all students on Monday with information about how to find vaccines off campus as well as through MyUHS. McGlone also added the DHS vaccine registry offers off-campus vaccination appointments to students and the CDC’s vaccine search finder identifies pharmacies and other off-campus vaccination sources as well.
Sethi advised students they should keep up on communication from UHS and UW about the availability of appointments, as well as communicate with one another about vaccine processes.
“I encourage students to ask each other about where they have been successful or not in getting appointments,” Sethi said. “Sharing this kind of information can be very helpful to those who are not sure where to go.”