University employees get vaccinated, students next

Wake Forest applied for and received permission to become a COVID-19 vaccine provider

Several+employees+of+the+university+have+already+gotten+vaccines%2C+and+the+university+has+gotten+approval+to+vaccinate+students+on+campus%2C+once+they+become+eligible%2C+according+to+top+administration+officials.

Several employees of the university have already gotten vaccines, and the university has gotten approval to vaccinate students on campus, once they become eligible, according to top administration officials.

Cate Pitterle, News Editor

As the days have grown warmer and the quad is once again crowded with students, Wake Forest seems to be experiencing a renewed sense of optimism, due in part to the rollout of vaccines across campus.

Faculty and student workers — who are included in North Carolina’s Group 3 of vaccine priority — are already vaccine-eligible. That includes resident advisors and employees contracted with Aramark.

As the university prepares for a large-scale effort to vaccinate the student population, it is relying on its relationship with Wake Forest Baptist Health, which has been holding temporary vaccine clinics for those eligible.

“A temporary vaccine clinic, operated by [Wake Forest Baptist Health], was set up on [March 8] at Sutton Center on the Reynolda Campus to provide 320 doses of the Moderna vaccine,” read an email which was sent to faculty and obtained by the Old Gold & Black.

At the time this article was written, the university also hopes to provide 500 additional doses of the Moderna vaccine at temporary clinics today and tomorrow. The university expects to deliver 200 doses Thursday and 300 Friday.

There are alternative ways to get the vaccine, however. Walgreens is also supplying vaccines to those eligible in Group 3, though availability may depend on the location and timing.

The COVID-19 Community Vaccination Center at the Four Seasons Town Center is also distributing vaccines to Group 3 eligible patients. The center is located in Greensboro.

Finally, an event planned for the weekend of March 13 and 14 is open to those eligible for vaccination. The Forsyth County Department of Public Health will be administering those vaccines.

However, Vice President of University Advancement Mark Petersen clarified that this event is open only to those in Group 3 — Forsyth County is not prioritizing students, even those who live in congregate housing. Most students living in dorms will be in Group 4 and are not currently eligible to receive the vaccine. 

“That means that [students] will become eligible around March 24, but have a lower priority than others in the congregate living category (nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters, etc are ahead of students),” said Petersen of the Fairgrounds event. “Realistically, that means that students can hope for their turn in early April.  Which is great news!”

Wake Forest has also applied and was accepted to be a vaccine provider. Ideally, they can start inoculating students within the next couple of months. According to Petersen, Wake Forest is preparing to administer any vaccine, whether it is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which are more difficult to handle due to temperature restrictions.

Though there is a light at the end of the tunnel, Petersen emphasized that students not currently eligible should allow those more at risk to receive the vaccine first.

“It is important that [Group 4-eligible students] not flood the fairgrounds and take spots that are intended for at-risk and frontline workers in the county, including Wake Forest employees and contract employees,” said Petersen.

As vaccines roll out, the university looks ahead to a transition to Yellow operating status on Friday. If cases continue to trend downward and the vaccine continues to circulate among the campus community, Petersen said the university could even see a change to Green operating status in the future.

“If we stay below 1% [virus prevalence on campus] for multiple weeks and we have a critical mass of faculty and staff, especially our front-line workers, who are vaccinated,” Petersen said, “we think a [conversation about transitioning to Green status] is in the offing.”