At approximately 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 12, University of Mississippi pharmacy students and doctors officially began administering the COVID-19 vaccine in the Tad Smith Coliseum. UM received a shipment of 1,170 Pfizer vaccines that day, and as of Wednesday, 708 of those doses have been administered to students and employees.
Initially, on-campus vaccinations were only available to people who both qualify under the Mississippi State Department of Health eligibility guidelines and work at the university, including student workers and those who work in Aramark locations on campus. Currently, the MSDH says that people who may receive the vaccine are: healthcare personnel, long-term care facility residents and staff, anyone over the age of 16 with a chronic health condition, adults over the age of 50, K-12 teachers and preschool and childcare workers.
However, some student workers and other university employees who don’t meet any of those requirements have been able to receive the vaccine at the on-campus clinic.
According to a statement from university spokesman Rod Guajardo, when university officials were notified last week that the university was to receive Pfizer doses, they first allowed campus employees who met MSDH standards for vaccine eligibility to make appointments for the clinic on March 10 and 11. Then, they realized that over half of the total available appointments were still open.
“When supply outpaced demand, the university followed the recommendation of our Task Force to activate the standby list to ensure that shots get in arms of our employees,” Guajardo said. “In order to ensure that none of the vaccine doses provided to us by MSDH were wasted, campus workers on the standby list were notified via text message on the afternoon of Thursday, March 11, that they could begin scheduling vaccine appointments on campus.”
UM administrators compiled the standby list by using information from the COVID Vaccine Administration Survey that the Office of the Provost sent to the UM community via email in February to measure willingness to receive the vaccine, as well as how many people on campus have already received the vaccine.
The university has also already requested additional doses from the MSDH, “and the university stands ready and willing to vaccinate additional members of (the) campus community if we receive additional doses,” according to Guajardo.