Director of Health Services Diane Lynch offered some of the first public comments on Seton Hall’s COVID-19 vaccination plans and encouraged eligible students to get vaccinated at a town hall meeting Wednesday evening.
Lynch spoke alongside other administrators at the meeting moderated by Student Government Association (SGA) President Julia Nicolls.
Lynch encouraged students to register to be vaccinated through New Jersey’s vaccine scheduling system. Resident students who are from out of state may register in New Jersey and in their home states, and should “take the first available opportunity to get vaccinated,” she said.
Lynch said she anticipates that many students will be eligible for vaccination before the end of the spring semester.
“At the pace that we’re rolling the vaccine out in New Jersey, I think that it’s likely that a lot of students may become eligible before the end of the semester in mid-May,” Lynch said.
On Thursday, during the first prime time address of his term, President Joe Biden announced that he would urge all 50 states to make all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1.
“July 4, with your loved ones, is the goal,” Biden said. “But a lot can happen. Conditions can change. And scientists have made clear that things may get worse again as new variants of the virus spread.”
The state of New Jersey has administered 2.7 million doses as of Thursday, with 1.8 million first doses and over 900,000 second doses given in the state according to the NJ COVID-19 dashboard.
Lynch also outlined what would have to happen before a theoretical vaccination clinic was opened on campus, noting the difficulty in storing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require specialized freezers. The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in February, does not need to be frozen.
“With increased production of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s possible at some point that doctors’ offices and clinics such as Health Services may be able to obtain vaccine and distribute it to students.”
Still, Lynch said it was more likely that a third-party vendor would administer vaccines on campus.
“We may have a vendor that we arrange to come to campus at some point to run some vaccine clinics and then as we move into the fall I might anticipate that the vaccine would actually be also available in health services if someone had not gotten it at that point.”
Because the vaccine is FDA authorized for emergency use, Lynch said Seton Hall could not require it “at this time.”
“In addition to monitoring FDA approvals, we are also in regular contact with local and State of New Jersey Department of Health officials, who may provide additional guidance and requirements when such authorization comes,” Lynch said in an email to The Setonian. “In the meantime, we continue to promote vaccine awareness among our entire University community and encourage all members to get vaccinated when they are eligible.”
Lynch said students who are fully vaccinated and are exposed to someone with COVID-19 will not have to isolate.
Two weeks after your final vaccine dose “you would no longer need to quarantine if exposed to someone who had COVID. That doesn’t mean we want people not to be careful, but it’s definitely a way to sell the vaccine.
Health Services will begin requesting that students upload records of their vaccination to their student health portals to enable the University to track vaccine data on campus, according to Lynch.
“Things will become a little bit more normal,” Lynch said. “With the more people that we have getting vaccinated we will be quarantining less people and will also be able to socialize maybe more normally as we move forward.”
Daniel O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @itsDanOConnor.