Arizona alone has had over 818,000 COVID-19 cases and upwards of 16,000 deaths. With around 1,000 COVID-19 cases being reported daily recently, some students may be eager to get vaccinated. The good news is that there are three U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines. Unfortunately, the general population of college students has yet to receive them.
David Salafsky is the interim co-executive director of Health Promotion & Preventive Services. He works with Campus Health and is waiting to see when the vaccine distribution will be approved. Through a series of questions, Salafsky was able to identify what factors contribute to the time in which vaccines will be distributed to students. The Daily Wildcat spoke with Salafsky.
Daily Wildcat: When do you believe students will start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
David Salafsky: A smaller percentage of students have received the vaccine already if they were eligible based on the criteria set forth by the County or State in phase 1. Most students will be vaccinated once Phase 2 begins, ideally in late Spring.
DW: What are some factors that impact when students will receive the vaccine?
DS: A big factor right now is vaccine availability, but we have cause to be optimistic about that. Now with the recent approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that is another tool to fight [COVID-19] in addition to the two EUA approved RNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. More vaccines are obviously better in ensuring sufficient supply.
DW: Are some students more likely to receive the vaccine before other students (ex: students who are employed at the UA)?
DS: The U of A does not set the criteria on who can get the vaccine, but yes, those students who qualified to be part of phase 1 as outlined by the County and State have been able to receive the vaccine. We are hoping that students living in the dorms might be eligible to receive the vaccine in phase 1c under the "adults living in congregate settings" category.
DW: Do you know what type of vaccine students would be getting (from which company)?
DS: Right now the U of A State [Point of Distribution] is administering the Pfizer vaccine. That could change of course based on what is available. The main message here is to get the vaccine you can when it's your turn. The vaccines are all safe and their effectiveness is higher than many of us had even hoped for.
DW: Who has to approve the vaccination distribution process at the UA?
DS: Currently, we are a State POD we are working closely with the State of Arizona, similar to the large PODs in the Phoenix area. Our POD here is staffed by University of Arizona staff - Facilities Management, Campus Health, and others - as well as many volunteers.
DW: Will vaccines be available for all UA students, regardless of insurance?
DS: The good news is that there are no out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine - so individuals will not pay for a COVID-19 vaccine. You may be asked for an insurance card to help support the health care staff that are administering the vaccine - but individuals won't pay a dime out of pocket.
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