Princeton will host “on-campus clinics” to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to community members once available, according to a University announcement on Friday afternoon. Vaccines will be administered at no cost.
The clinics will serve University “undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, retirees and affiliates,” as well as household members of all groups except undergraduates. The state “has charged colleges and universities with distributing vaccines to their students, faculty and staff in order to take pressure off other vaccine distribution efforts across the state,” according to the release.
However, because the vaccine rollout timeline is determined by the state of New Jersey, the University does not yet know when vaccine doses will be available.
“We are working in partnership with state and local health officials to distribute vaccines to members of the University community once we are able to do so,” University Health Services Executive Director John Kolligian said in the University statement. “While the vaccine rollout in New Jersey is an excellent development, patience and flexibility will be important as we enter this new phase of the pandemic; timelines may change and distribution plans may need adjustments.”
New Jersey is taking a phased approach to vaccine distribution. Under the current plan, residents will be vaccinated in four major phases — 1A, 1B, 1C, and 2 — with prioritized groups like essential workers, immunocompromised people, and the elderly vaccinated in the first three stages and the general public vaccinated last. Currently, healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities are being vaccinated in Phase 1A.
Whether college students will be part of a prioritized group, and receive the shot prior to the general public, remains unclear.
In an “interim” timeline released by the state of New Jersey last month, Phase 1C, which generally applies to people at “high risk” for COVID-19, will include “people living or working in congregate or overcrowded settings — e.g. colleges and universities.” Former Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert shared this definition in a Dec. 28 newsletter.
The state health department website, last updated on Wednesday, notes that “defining categories of individuals to include in 1C is currently in process and will be finalized in early 2021.”
Jeffrey Grosser, Health Officer of the Princeton Health Department, told The Daily Princetonian that Phase 1C vaccinations will likely arrive “by early spring,” depending on the “continued rollout and vaccine supply chain.”
In the University’s statement, Grosser added that “[t]he Princeton Health Department and Princeton University have worked closely together through each phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will continue to work together in order to effectively support vaccination efforts.”
A survey was emailed to members of the campus community to gauge interest in a vaccine. The University statement explained that the survey is “voluntary,” and will be used “for planning purposes only.”
The University will be one of several vaccine distribution points in New Jersey. Information about major “vaccination hubs” across the state can be found on the state’s COVID-19 Information Hub.
Exact locations of the on-campus clinics have not yet been announced. The University has also not announced which of the approved vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — will be administered.
On its vaccination FAQ page, the University stated that students living off-campus will be eligible for on-campus vaccination; however, students on leaves of absence will not be eligible, and will instead get vaccinated at their local “town or county clinic.”
International students, who are considered New Jersey residents for the purposes of vaccine distribution, will also be eligible.
It is still not known when vaccines will be made available on campus, and the University statement encouraged community members and their households “to make plans to get vaccinated at the earliest possible time and site that is most convenient for them.”