BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — On Friday, Indiana University became the latest college in the state to announce it will begin offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments exclusively to its students, faculty and staff.
The announcement comes two days after ISDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver reported that 60,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be going to Indiana colleges.
IU said the campus communities at Bloomington and IUPUI will begin to receive a special link through email and text message, as early as Friday, from the State of Indiana to schedule their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
IU Bloomington appointments will be held at the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, where healthcare workers have already been vaccinating Hoosiers through the State of Indiana. The new vaccine appointments will be scheduled on separate days and times, only open to the IU community.
“We have been advising our students, faculty and staff that as soon as they become eligible, we would like them to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Lana Dbeibo, director of vaccine initiatives with the IU Medical Response Team and infectious disease physician with IU School of Medicine.
“We are choosing times of the day or different days where we don’t normally have our open pod, where we can maximize how much we can give specifically for our students, faculty and staff,” explained Dbeibo.
Dbeibo said the goal is to get students, staff and faculty vaccinated before they leave in May or “at least with their first dose of the vaccine, hopefully, before they leave campus or before they leave town.”
If a person does leave town before they are able to get their second dose, Dbeibo said “they can still get their second dose somewhere else as long as it’s the same vaccine type.”
Each person will be provided proof of first shot and then when complete, they will have the opportunity to schedule their second COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think this is a golden opportunity for us to be able to have all of them together in one spot for one vaccination, even with just one dose of the vaccine,” said Dbeibo.
For IU Bloomington, she said they are expecting to receive between 11,000 and 15,000 doses of the vaccine in their first allocation, as well as 5,000 for IUPUI.
“What we anticipate, based on our conversations with the State Health Department is, we can get more vaccines if the demand is there,” Dbeibo said. “We don’t have to wait for them to go away, once the appointments are getting filled, we just start asking for more and that’s our plan.”
The first round of vaccination appointments for students, staff and faculty will be held the weeks of April 5 and April 12 for both IU Bloomington and IUPUI.
Second doses are scheduled to be administered at IU Bloomington the weeks of April 26 and May 3.
At IUPUI, second doses are scheduled to be going out to students, faculty, and staff the weeks of April 26, May 3 and 10.
Dbeibo said they are making sure everyone knows the time frame between when a first and second shot should be received, so people can plan accordingly around finals schedules and travels home for summer semester.
“We are in communications, making sure that they are aware that the second shot should be given at least 3 weeks after the first one,” she said. Dbeibo said, a person can wait several weeks beyond that if they are unable to get their second dose on campus and need to schedule for a different facility.
“We are also very cognizant that the timing of the second appointment is going to overlap, potentially, with their finals,” said Dbeibo.
Despite the possibility they might not be able to get their second doses at IU Bloomington, students Maggie Mulligan and Kwame Amankwah-Ayeh both said they would get their vaccine.
“I would absolutely be willing to schedule my second dose if I needed to. I know back home my mom has kind of been telling me there’s a lot of options, so if I had to get the first dose here and figure it out how to get it somewhere else, I’d be willing to do that,” said Mulligan, a sophomore media major.
“I think it’s great for students because it’s super, like, accessible we have busy schedules so you don’t wanna go all the way to Martinsville like to the Speedway to do this,” said Amankwah-Ayeh, a sophomore finance major.
He said he would consider getting his second shot back home in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, if he is unable to make it work with his schedule at IU Bloomington.
Mulligan said she feels this option provides more accessibility to those on campus, who otherwise may have felt trying to find a way to get their vaccine was out of reach.
“I think with IU offering it students will be more inclined to go and get it on campus so I think it’s a great idea,” she said.
Both said they’re looking forward to returning to some normalcy in the next school year.
“I’m gonna be a junior next year and I’ll be living in my sorority house, so especially from a Greek life perspective, I think we’ll all be happy to be around each other a little more often,” shared Mulligan.
“I think it’s important for us to make sure as they’re leaving for the semester that they are protected more than what they were coming into the semester,” Dbeibo said.
When it comes to other regional IU campuses around the state, Dbeibo shared that they are working to make sure students, staff and faculty have access to vaccines, but right now when it comes to something like these clinics, that would be up to the discretion of their own individual decisions.