Daily file illustration by Hank Yang
As COVID-19 vaccines become available to more Cook County residents, an increasing number of Northwestern community members are getting vaccinated through University and local initiatives.
NU has an active clinic in Norris to administer vaccines to community members, according to an email from Luke Figora, former chief risk and compliance officer. Supplies are limited, so onsite vaccination efforts have focused on faculty and staff age 65 and older, as well as on Compass food service employees and students who qualify for the vaccine in Phase 1A or 1B, the email said.
“While vaccine supply remains low, we are grateful our partners from the City of Evanston Health and Human Services are continuing to allocate a share of their supply to Northwestern,” Figora wrote in the email. “We have administered every dose of vaccine the city has given us on the day we received it.”
Cook County is currently in Phase 1C of vaccine distribution, which includes individuals age 65 and over, healthcare workers, frontline essential workers and people with underlying medical conditions.
Faculty and staff vaccination access
Medill Prof. Karen Springen said she received the Moderna vaccine through the University at a March 25 vaccination event for faculty and staff at Norris, held less than a week after the State of Illinois announced that higher education staff were eligible for the vaccine. Registration for the event was first come, first serve, but future opportunities will be available to those unable to secure an appointment, the University said in an email to faculty and staff.
Springen said that when she arrived at Norris for her first-dose appointment, it felt as if campus life was beginning to go back to normal.
“I think most people were probably like me, where we’ve been pretty isolated,” she said. “It was about the most people I think I’ve been around since the pandemic happened.”
Student vaccination access
Some NU students have already been vaccinated as part of Phase 1C. Weinberg junior Adina Stefan received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and is set to get the second in the coming weeks.
But registering for the vaccine has been difficult given the high demand. Stefan said it took three separate tries before they finally secured an appointment through the Cook County COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program.
“The last time I tried they released 25,000 appointments, but there were probably 53,000 people waiting in line,” Stefan said.
Weinberg junior Alex Turntine said she was eligible to get the vaccine as an essential worker, but transportation posed a barrier since most of the vaccination sites listed on the Community Vaccination Program website are over an hour away from Evanston.
“I couldn’t justify spending $70 for an Uber there and back or spending four hours total on the train,” Turntine said.
She was eventually able to get the vaccine after coordinating with a friend to book vaccine appointments back to back so they could split the cost of an Uber.
For those who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Illinois opens eligibility to all individuals age 16 and older on April 12 as part of Phase 2.
To assess how much of the campus community has been vaccinated, NU has opened a voluntary vaccine disclosure form for students, faculty and staff who become fully vaccinated outside of the University. The form asks community members to disclose the type of vaccine received and dates of vaccination.
With more community members receiving vaccines, students and faculty are looking forward to a sense of normalcy and more in-person programming across the University.
Turntine, who transferred to NU this school year, said she has never had an in-person class. She is also in the a cappella group Soul4Real and said she hopes to eventually rehearse in person.
Springen said although most people are used to remote learning environments by now, she misses teaching in-person classes. She said she used to make cookies and bring them into her classroom or office and hopes to chat with faculty and students again as they munch on the baked goods.
“I’ve actually been so pleasantly surprised at how well people have adapted,” Springen said. “But I can’t wait to see everyone in person. I can’t wait to bake my cookies.”
Email: [email protected]
— The Daily’s COVID-19 vaccination guide: what you need to know and how to get a COVID-19 vaccine
— NU students now eligible for compensated Moderna vaccine trial
— Q&A: Chief Risk, Compliance Officer Luke Figora talks vaccine distribution, testing, ‘new normal’ for Northwestern