Student workers become vaccine eligible

Many student workers meet the qualifications for vaccination Under Phase 3 of N.C.’s plan


Wake Forest has told student workers they may receive the vaccine.

Alexandra Karlinchak, Editor-in-Chief

While the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for frontline Group 3 workers was not meant to begin until March 10, North Carolina is well ahead of schedule.

On March 3, it was announced that all Group 3 essential workers would be made eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

As highlighted in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce,” Group 3 includes all in-person workers who serve in one of the eight following categories: critical manufacturing, essential goods, food and agricultural, government and community services, health care, public safety, transportation or education.

For Wake Forest faculty, staff and student-workers, these new inoculation guidelines mean that the majority of the school’s workforce qualifies for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Based on Group 3 guidelines, all in-person university personnel including, but not limited to, IT specialists, administrators, operational staff members, food service providers, professors, counselors and health care providers have been given the metaphorical COVID-19 vaccination green light.

Included in that group of university employees are some of the unsung heroes of the school — Residential Advisors and other essential, in-person student employees.

A sophomore RA who preferred to remain anonymous said they received an email on Tuesday night from Dean of Residence Life and Housing Matt Clifford. This email confirmed that RAs would be eligible for vaccination as of Wednesday, March 3. The RA said that a number of other RAs had already scheduled their appointments through Walgreens and Novant Health’s vaccination program. This individual plans on receiving their first vaccine dose sometime next week.

“After we received that email from Dean Clifford, we got another on Wednesday from HR highlighting the same thing,” the RA said. “[The email from HR] asked us to fill out a form that determined whether or not we were eligible for the vaccine. From my understanding, the form is to help collect and prioritize people if [and when] Wake begins their own vaccination program.”

But RAs and student workers are not the only Wake Forest community members who will be receiving their COVID-19 vaccination within the next few days.

An email provided to the Old Gold & Black via a Wake Forest faculty member showcased a message that was sent out on Tuesday at around 7 p.m. That message encouraged “eligible faculty members” to schedule a vaccination appointment with an outside provider.

“While the university works on plans to implement our own vaccination clinic, we also continue to work with Wake Forest Baptist Health to identify more immediate opportunities for faculty, staff, and affiliate colleagues to get vaccinated,” the email reads.

The email concludes by reminding faculty members that while the vaccine is not required by the university, it is highly encouraged that all employees be vaccinated.

Even Wake Forest students who do not work directly for the university have taken advantage of N.C.’s new vaccine distribution plan.

Sophomores Ansley Henderson and Elizabeth Dutton each work as respective Instacart and Doordash drivers in Winston-Salem and received emails from the North Carolina Department of Health informing them that they were eligible to be vaccinated if they so wished.

The two girls drove to Lexington, N.C. and were vaccinated around 4 p.m. on March 3.

“I am really excited that I got to get the vaccine, but I am more thankful that all the workers who enter residence halls daily are getting vaccinated too,” Henderson said. “If anything, I wish they would have been eligible a lot sooner than just today.”

Several students feel excited about new vaccine guidelines, as a number of students believe that the sooner things go back to normal, the better.

“Although we are at risk for another spike and will be [for quite some time], we’re looking at the potential of having a great and somewhat normal fall semester,” the RA said. “And I couldn’t be more excited for that.”