By Rebecca Osowski – 1851 Contributor
As the COVID-19 vaccine has been introduced all over the country, in recent months the Lasell community had hopes of its distribution on campus through the Vaccine Standby program.
On February 22, students received an email from the Director of Health Services Richard Arnold detailing how Lasell could move into Phase II of vaccinations. Members of the community over the age of 65 or with at least two specific medical conditions were eligible for the vaccine at that time.
These medical conditions include: cancer, chronic kidney disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Down Syndrome, a variety of heart conditions, immunocompromised from an organ transplant, a BMI above 30, pregnancy, Sickle Cell Disease, participation in smoking, or type two diabetes.
Only four days later, students, faculty, and staff received a second email from Arnold informing them that there would no longer be vaccination distribution on campus. According to Arnold’s email, “the Commonwealth decided to prioritize mass vaccination centers, among other providers,” and will no longer provide vaccines to higher education distribution centers.
After vaccinating about 320 members of the community, Arnold was surprised to hear Lasell would not be receiving any more vaccines, saying, “We had entered into this commitment with the understanding that we would be able to continue to provide vaccines.”
According to Hennessey, the decision on which vaccination centers would be receiving vaccines comes as the state only receives approximately 110,000 doses a week. This dosage is forcing Governor Baker’s office to prioritize vaccines to high-risk areas and high-volume vaccination sites, including Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium.
Despite this setback, Arnold is advocating weekly for vaccines, submitting a survey to the Department of Public Health, requesting a specific number of vaccines. As of right now, there is no update on when or if Lasell will receive more vaccines.
Although Lasell is not currently vaccinating on campus, Arnold’s goal is to vaccinate the whole community as soon as possible, hopefully by the end of the semester. Vaccinating the entire community before leaving this semester or returning next semester “will have a significant impact on what we can and cannot do in the fall,” says Arnold.
Arnold and the entirety of Health Services are committed to getting vaccines back on campus, a good sign for students, faculty, and staff as campus could return to some level of normalcy in the fall.
First-year Katrina Abouzeid has missed out on aspects of campus that drew her to Lasell, however, she showed excitement at the possibility of normalcy. Abouzeid said, “I am really hopeful for a normal campus life to experience what everyone says college is about.”
While it is unknown when vaccinations could resume on campus, members of the Lasell community are encouraged by Health Services to continue to be safe and get vaccinated as soon as possible if they are able to.