LIZ MONROE, News Editor—After much anticipation and planning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Denison is finally able to provide students with different vaccine options—both Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer—that they can receive on campus. After pop-up clinics April 2 and 9, the Office of Student Development announced that all students will be able to receive either vaccine on campus starting next week.
Earlier this semester, Denison’s Wellness Center reached out to Licking Memorial Hospital and Licking County Health Department for assistance on vaccine distribution for students on campus.
“Denison became authorized to receive the vaccine in mass quantities, following state guidelines in order to do so. We also completed the training necessary to distribute the vaccine, but we weren’t able to get a supply until recently,” Dustin Brentlinger, the Polk Family Director of Student Health and Wellness, said.
According to Brentlinger, the original intent in regard to vaccines on campus was to get a large enough supply to vaccinate everyone including staff and students etc. (roughly 4,000 vaccines). The Wellness Center planned to use the science department’s ultra cold freezers for vaccine storage and ensured there were enough locations for vaccinations on campus.
The vaccine was still unavailable for Denison to receive a large enough supply, which led Brentlinger and the team at the Wellness Center to think of new strategies and search for opportunities for students to get the vaccine at locations off campus, as well as on campus.
“Eventually the Licking County Health Department and the Licking Memorial Hospital came to the school with the opportunity to do shots on campus. We immediately agreed,” Brentlinger said.
Two site visits took place in order to make sure there was space on campus outlined properly for vaccine distribution. According to Brentlinger, working with the health department and local hospital was an overall successful experience with the exception of a lack of time for proper planning.
“The first clinic went off without a hitch. The only issue was some students didn’t show up for their appointments. Then we had to try and find students interested in getting vaccinated and get them to the vaccination site in that moment,” Brentlinger said.
Instead of having a campus-wide vaccine supply on hand as it was originally planned, Denison now has a weekly allocation of vaccines. For the first on campus clinic, which took place April 2, Denison received a supply of 200 vaccines and the appointment slots were filled within seven minutes. The second clinic held on campus this past Friday had a supply of 298 vaccines, but not all of the spots were taken.
Denison just announced that both the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will be available to any students who are interested and they will be administered next week on campus. Next week will be the last chance for students to receive the Pfizer vaccine because of its two dose requirement and the time constraints that come with it. However, the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine will be readily available beginning next Tuesday, April 13.
“My understanding is students have been struggling with anxieties surrounding the vaccine and having to do it twice. We are hoping that offering the additional Johnson & Johnson option and another vaccine clinic next week will help to lessen some of those anxieties,” Brentlinger said.
The vaccines are being administered in the “Nest” on the third floor of Slayter. Students need to bring a paper copy of their insurance and photo ID to their appointments, and fill out the 2-page paperwork that is emailed to them.
“Getting the vaccine is important, but we don’t want to create more anxiety about it. The Wellness Center staff is always open to walking students through the vaccine. Everyone wants to be as helpful as they can,” Brentlinger said.