About a year ago, the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered to front-line healthcare workers throughout the country, and it was unknown when college-aged students would be able to get vaccinated. Now, the University has reported that 94 percent of the student body and 90 percent of all employees are fully vaccinated as of Nov. 30.
How did we get here?
In Jan., Campus Health gained approval to become a site for vaccination storage and distribution and began planning an on-campus vaccine clinic for students. However, with students falling into Group 5 of the vaccine rollout plan, University health officials said it was unlikely that most students would receive the first dose of the vaccine before late spring or early summer of 2021.
By the end of the month, student health care workers were some of the first students able to receive their first dose of the vaccine.
In March, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced in a campus message that University employees and student employees with in-person roles were also able to receive the vaccine, but it remained unclear when the general student population would be able to get it.
However, due to the rapid rollout of vaccines across the state, the process for eligibility was accelerated to include all North Carolinian adults by April 7.
On Mar. 31, Campus Health opened its first on-campus vaccination clinic in the Student Stores Wendy’s, where it was able to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to students. With a plentiful supply of the vaccine available, Campus Health expanded its operations to offer the Moderna vaccine to student household members in May.
Entering the fall semester, the University required students to either attest that they were vaccinated or participate in twice-weekly testing to return to campus. However, in the face of breakthrough cases and surges of the new delta variant, students and faculty alike felt uncertain about returning to in-person instruction.
In early Sept., a student-run organization called Vaccinate UNC Now organized a series of protests demanding that the University implement a student vaccine mandate.