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Ohio University to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Athens for students starting this week

Published: April 1, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Note: This story has been updated with new information.

Ohio University will host COVID-19 vaccination clinics beginning this week in Athens for any OHIO students who want to be vaccinated. The clinics are made possible by a direct allocation of vaccine from the state to Ohio colleges and universities.

“This is an extremely positive step that will move us forward toward a more normal experience in the fall,” President M. Duane Nellis said. “I am grateful to Governor DeWine for his leadership and support of higher education.”

The governor has emphasized the importance of college students getting vaccinated against COVID-19, explaining that although young people are not as likely to get sick from COVID-19, they are significant carriers of the virus that causes it.

"This is ... a strategic move to vaccinate students before they scatter throughout the state and country when classes end in May,” Gov. DeWine Tweeted today. “We have an obligation to vaccinate people as quickly as we can to increase the vaccination rate.”

Although it was previously reported that the student clinics would feature the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, due to a Johnson & Johnson vaccine shortage this week the clinics are featuring the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses spaced 21 days apart.  

Students who get a Pfizer vaccine on Wed., April 7, will need to return to Heritage Hall on Wed., April 28, for a second dose; those students who get a Pfizer vaccine on Fri., April 9, will need to return on Friday, April 30, for a second dose. This is an important consideration when making an appointment, as the second vaccine dose must be completed in the same location as the first. 

The University expects the clinics to be held April 12 through April 23 to be stocked only with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, pending availability. There is no cost to get a vaccine. 

Ohio University’s Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations, Gillian Ice, and Chief Medical Affairs Officer and Executive Dean of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ken Johnson, have been strong advocates for access to vaccines for college students.

Clinics will begin Wednesday, April 7 at Heritage Hall on Ohio University’s Athens campus, and will be held each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the following two weeks, pending vaccine allocation. Students will receive texts and emails from OHIO COVID Operations with details on clinic dates and times, and an access code for making an appointment online. Those students who have scheduled appointments to receive other vaccines are encouraged to cancel those appointments and get a Johnson & Johnson vaccine on campus.

“Using these doses allocated specifically for college students will free up more doses for other community members,” Ice said. “Additionally, taking advantage of this one-dose vaccine means students don’t need to plan around a second appointment while they are managing finals, graduation and move-out.”

Athens City-County Health Department (ACCHD) staff and nurses will manage the campus clinics in collaboration with Ohio University's Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the School of Nursing within OHIO's College of Health Sciences and Professions. Both colleges' students, faculty and staff have played a vital role in supporting vaccination clinics across the region in recent months.

“These clinics are an incredible opportunity for our medical and nursing students to gain practical experience while also providing greatly needed help to our community,” Johnson said. “I’m proud of Ohio University’s involvement in this critically important public health effort.”

In January the University welcomed ACCHD to hold community vaccination clinics in Heritage Hall, which had the space and available parking to accommodate a monumental vaccination effort. Regular clinics have continued there on a weekly basis, in collaboration with OhioHealth. ACCHD is prepared to manage the allocation of vaccine for OHIO students in addition to its community clinics.

OHIO, ACCHD and OhioHealth have been collaborating since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure students, faculty, staff and community members were safe and had the right resources available. 

"The level of cooperation that has occurred throughout the course of the pandemic has just been outstanding,” ACCHD Administrator Jack Pepper said. “We couldn’t be prouder of the partnerships that we have forged with Ohio University and OhioHealth. It honestly feels like each of us had just the right resources to bring to the table to allow for this incredible distribution of vaccine to occur in Athens County.”