c/o Ava Nederlander, Photo Editor

c/o Ava Nederlander, Photo Editor

The Community Health Center hosted a closed vaccination clinic for University students in the Vine Street parking lot on Saturday, April 24. Around 700 students received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last weekend. Students who received the vaccine at the closed clinic will receive their second dose on Saturday, May 15 or Sunday, May 16.

The Community Health Center, which provides affordable healthcare to underserved populations in Connecticut, has hosted closed clinics for high schools and colleges, including Wesleyan, providing individuals affiliated with those institutions a link to sign up for a vaccine appointment. Closed clinics are not open to the public, but they allow organizers to target certain populations for vaccination.

“[A closed clinic] tries to make [vaccination], what we like to say is, efficient, effective, and elegant,” Community Health Center Founder and CEO Mark Masselli (H ’09) said. “When people come by that day, we’re simply able to process them and move them in. At the same time, we have the flexibility. [If] somebody decided, ‘I didn’t sign up, but I want to get a shot…,’ they can come down and get it.”

The University’s closed clinic was originally scheduled for Sunday, April 25, in addition to Saturday. However, after a majority of students scheduled vaccination appointments for Saturday, the University encouraged all students to get vaccinated on Saturday instead. Vaccination appointments on Sunday were subsequently opened to all Connecticut residents.

After Connecticut declared that all residents, students, and workers over 16 were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination, the University arranged for students to receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the Vine Street vaccination site. When the FDA paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 13, the University met with the Community Health Center and decided to switch to the Pfizer vaccine. However, the shift to the two-dose vaccine means students will receive the second dose the weekend before finals. 

“The timing was tighter,” Masselli said. “It’s close there, but most students should be here on campus. and so hopefully we’ll have them. And for those who got it, it’s great: go home, summer, [and] not have to worry about it.”

By April 9, nearly 2,000 students had scheduled appointments, according to an email Medical Director Dr. Tom McLarney sent to students at the time. About a third of this number were ultimately vaccinated at the closed clinic over the weekend.

“Many students wrote to us canceling their appt. because they were able to get their vaccine earlier,” Dean of Students Rick Culliton wrote in an email to The Argus. “We believe most of these students have been vaccinated but were able to do so prior to the Wes clinic.”

The official University effort to vaccinate students followed the one-day vaccination clinic at WesWings. Sixty-six WesWings and Red & Black staff, students, family members, and University staff received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine Wednesday, April 14. For those who received the first dose then, second doses will be available on the WesWings patio from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on May 13.

Culliton announced that the University will require all students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus in the fall in an email to students on April 14. Students should upload their vaccination records to the University’s online medical record system Medicat. To request medical or religious exemption from the vaccination requirement, students must complete and upload the exemption forms on the Davison Health Center website.

International students who are unable to get vaccinated in their home countries will be able to get vaccinated after returning to campus in the fall. The University encourages students to get COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by their countries regardless of whether the vaccinations are authorized by the FDA.

“We will make plans as [the fall semester] gets closer,” Culliton said. “This landscape may look quite different four months from now, although we feel confident we will be able to coordinate for those who have not been able to get vaccinated by then.”

Faculty and staff are not currently required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but, according to McLarney, over 90% of faculty and staff have expressed a desire to get vaccinated.

Students, faculty, staff, and the rest of the public can still get vaccinated at the Vine Street vaccination site, with or without an appointment. While the site is drive-through, it can accommodate people who come on foot. The Community Health Center has administered nearly 400,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses at its sites, according to Masselli, over 10% of all doses given in Connecticut.

“We encourage people to get vaccinated, but we also encourage people who have questions to ask them,” Masselli said. “All questions are good ones, and to anybody who needs some assistance, pop on down to Vine Street. We’re happy to help out, make the accommodation, but also remember no longer needing an appointment.”


Elias Mansell can be reached at emansell@wesleyan.edu.

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