More Salisbury University Sea Gulls may now be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine as Gov. Larry Hogan moved Maryland into Phase 1C of the state’s vaccination distribution efforts Monday.
The move expanded the vaccine-eligible population at SU to include individuals with essential functions in facility or campus operations — such as facilities staff, food-service staff and housing staff — as well as faculty or staff who provide essential in-person learning that cannot be performed remotely, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
The university is in the process of contacting students, faculty and staff who are now eligible to receive the vaccine via email to indicate interest in being vaccinated and for how to sign up for a vaccination, per a recent Stay Informed email.
SU has learned, however, that vaccines for individuals in the Phase 1C priority group are extremely limited in the area due to national supply shortages, the email continued.
Members of the campus community who have already received the vaccine will still be required to follow all the university’s coronavirus prevention and testing policies, including the monthly COVID-19 testing requirement, according to the email. SU does not currently require campus community members to receive the vaccine.
Phase 1C also extends eligibility to more essential frontline workers not previously covered in Phase 1, as well as all Marylanders at least 65 years old, per the Maryland Department of Health.
While more than 1.5 million Marylanders are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, the Maryland Department of Health warns that the federal government is sending just 10,000 doses per day for the department to administer.
Phase 2 of the state’s vaccination plan will include adults 16-64 years old with underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease or kidney disease, and are therefore at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Much of the campus community, however, will not be eligible for vaccination until Phase 3, the final stretch of the state’s distribution plan, which extends to the general population.
SU is working with regional partners such as Tidal Health and the Wicomico County Health Department on its vaccination plans, said Director of Student Health Services Vicki Lentz.
“They are aware that there is a desire for faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated,” Lentz said.
SU President Charles Wight also expressed the uncertainty of the situation, urging the campus community to be patient with the vaccine rollout.
“We are getting as much information as we can in a timely way, and we will keep [the campus] as informed as we possibly can as decisions are made about the availability and scheduling of vaccines,” Wight said.
Wight has echoed the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations of mask-wearing, social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene as the most effective methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until vaccinations are made more widely available.
While vaccinations are unlikely to be administered on SU’s campus, vaccines began being administered in grocery store pharmacies statewide Monday, including three Wal-Mart locations in Wicomico County, according to the state’s new vaccination online portal.
The portal also lists the Wicomico County Health Department as a vaccine distribution site.
The entire list of vaccination sites statewide may be found on the portal here.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image courtesy of Orange County.