BU to Begin Giving COVID-19 Vaccines Friday
Rollout process will start with an initial small batch of 500 doses—vaccinating the entire BU community could stretch into the summer
- Boston University has received a small batch of 500 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to begin administering to campus community members.
- The decision to receive the vaccine is voluntary for now, not mandatory, and the process will strictly follow state guidelines for who gets vaccinated when.
- People who receive the vaccine still must adhere to campus safety measures and protocols.
With an initial small batch of 500 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, Boston University will begin the ambitious, lengthy process on Friday of inoculating the 45,000-strong BU community against the coronavirus that has ravaged the world.
BU received its first vaccine doses from Boston Medical Center, BU’s teaching hospital, and will continue to receive doses, as the state has designated the University as the point of distribution for BU faculty, staff, and students. Following the three-phase rollout plan issued by the state, the first BU group to be vaccinated will include healthcare workers and staff who support critical COVID-facing healthcare. (Find the state’s timeline for distributing and administering the vaccine here.)
The University will reach out to individuals to notify them when they are eligible to be vaccinated, along with information for how to sign up (the shots will be administered at FitRec, using the Buick Street entrance). The decision by individuals of whether to receive the vaccine will be voluntary for now, not mandatory. The vaccination process will also be strict, as far as who gets vaccinated when, dictated by the state’s prioritization guidelines, to prevent the possibility of so-called “line-jumpers.” (Find the order of priority for vaccinations here.) And the entire process could take months, perhaps stretching into the summer, depending on how quickly the state is able to supply BU with the necessary doses to vaccinate the BU community.
Acknowledging that some people may be reluctant to take a vaccine that was developed in record time (roughly one year), Judy Platt, director of Student Health Services, cochair of BU’s Vaccine Preparedness Group, and a family medicine physician, says people should feel confident in the science of the vaccines and in the approval process, while also weighing their own personal beliefs. “They should ask themselves, what does it mean for me, personally, to have a 95 percent reduced risk of getting COVID-19?” Platt says. “By getting vaccinated, you can be one of the many that helps to stop the pandemic. The arrival of the vaccines themselves won’t end the pandemic—the number of people who choose to get vaccinated will.”
On BU’s campus, there will be no correlation between what category (1, 2, 3, 4) a person has been assigned to for coronavirus testing purposes and when they might be eligible to receive their vaccine. The determination of what priority phase a person is assigned to for the vaccine under the state’s guidelines is based on a range of factors, such as job function, age, and whether the person has any comorbidities.
Even though BU has been designated as a vaccine administrator for the BU community, the University will receive doses only as aligned with the phased distribution set by the state. The state is reliant for more doses on the federal government, which is rolling out vaccines across the nation. There are currently two approved COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers in the United States, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which are both racing to produce hundreds of millions of doses as fast as possible.
Although the early vaccinations have given hope to a population that’s been mentally, physically, and emotionally drained since the early days of the coronavirus back in February 2020, experts caution that more patience is still demanded of people who are eager to put away their masks, begin seeing family and friends in large groups once again, and return to their favorite restaurants and shops without fear. COVID-19 has caused more than 13,000 deaths in Massachusetts, where there have been nearly 450,000 cases. Nationwide, it’s caused more than 376,000 deaths, among a total of 22 million cases.
Even as people start to receive the vaccine, transitioning BU’s campuses back to any sense of normalcy will be slow. Those vaccinated will still have to complete their daily symptom screening, continue to be tested per their assigned category, wear a mask, social distance, and just maintain general handwashing and other steps to stay safe and help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“We have all been waiting for this day, when we would start seeing members of the Boston University community vaccinated,” BU President Robert A. Brown says. “We are gearing up for the long process of administering the vaccines according to the schedule developed by the state and the availability of more doses. There are a lot of questions and details that will need to be resolved as we move forward, and as we learn more we will continue to communicate with all members of the BU community.”
We have all been waiting for this day, when we would start seeing members of the Boston University community vaccinated.
Moderna’s vaccine, like Pfizer-BioNTech’s, is administered in two shots into the muscle of the upper arm, approximately one month apart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine for anyone over age 18, but also advises that certain groups do not receive it, especially anyone who had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
People who receive the vaccine will be moved to an observation area, where they will remain socially distanced for 15 to 30 minutes for observation of any adverse reaction to the shot. After receiving the shot, normal symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness in the arm area where it was given—typical of any vaccine shot. Chills, tiredness, and headache are also possible symptoms in the first 24 hours after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. (Anyone with questions or concerns about the way they feel after receiving the vaccine can call their primary care providers or BU Healthway, which will have nurses available for triage over the phone, at 617-353-0550, then press 2.)
The CDC says the Moderna vaccine was proven to be 94.1 percent effective at preventing “laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected.”
For nonmedical issues, faculty and staff who have questions about the vaccination program may email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 617-358-4990 weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. Students who have questions about the vaccination program may email email@example.com. Faculty, students, or staff who have medical questions related to the vaccine or postvaccination side effects should call Healthway at 617-353-0550 from 7 am to 6 pm, seven days a week, and press 2 to speak with a nurse.