The University of Oregon is ramping up planning to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for faculty, staff and students so it can move quickly when vaccine supplies become available.
The UO also is partnering with local governments and schools to support countywide public health vaccination efforts by providing logistical support, expertise and other help.
In a message to campus, UO President Michael H. Schill said the university will offer free vaccines to faculty members, staff and students as quickly as is permitted following state and federal vaccine prioritization guidelines, as supply becomes available.
“This is my top priority,” Schill said. “We are strongly advocating at the state level on behalf of our students, faculty and staff. We will continue to stress the importance of higher education to the well-being of our community, economy and society as vaccine prioritizations are finalized.”
The UO is playing a key role in the Lane County Regional COVID-19 Vaccination Collaborative, a partnership to support public vaccine distribution. The university will draw on its experience staging large events and from meningococcal vaccination clinics several years ago. Schill recently met with public government, health and school officials to offer university resources to aid the public vaccination effort.
“We are committed to working together to help our community weather the pandemic and begin to recover from its impacts,’ Schill added. “I offered all of the university’s resources to helping in this effort and, following the governor’s priorities, getting K-12 teachers and staff vaccinated as quickly as possible. Once this occurs the burdens on many of our faculty and staff, which I recognize have been heavy, should be lightened.”
As part of the collaborative, UO emergency management staff supported a two-day mass vaccination clinic for health care workers in Eugene on Jan. 16 and 17. It is the start of an on-going effort to hold clinics around the county as the vaccine arrives.
As the UO seeks clarity about when COVID-19 vaccines will be available to campus, the university will soon launch a preregistration process for faculty members, staff, graduate educators and student employees. Employees will be emailed an online submission form asking if they want to be vaccinated through a local clinic managed by the county and whether they currently work on campus, remotely or in a hybrid mode.
“This process is about the university being as ready as possible as Lane County begins to receive doses,” said Andre LeDuc, associate vice president and chief resilience officer. “We don’t know when that will be or how many doses at a time will be received. But when supply is available, we want to notify employees who want vaccines that they are eligible and get them vaccinated quickly and efficiently. “
LeDuc said that as supply becomes available to employees, they will be notified to schedule their vaccinations. He cautioned that that there may be significant lag time between launching the preregistration system and administering vaccines.
According to the Oregon Health Authority’s phased approach to distribution, most UO students are included in Phase 2. The UO will offer vaccinations to students in jointly sponsored clinics during that phase of the process. That information will be shared with students as it is available.