Students now eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19

Students now eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19

SU announces 1,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are available to students this week after eligibility expands to include all adults.
Published: April 6, 2021 | Updated: April 8th, 2021 at 11:51 am
A nurse injects a patient with a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, February 26th. The Oncenter is currently home to the vaccine clinic as well as a testing center.
A nurse injects a patient with a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine recently at the OnCenter, one of Onondaga County's vaccination sites.

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility increased to all residents 16 and older in New York State on April 6. For Syracuse University students, this means they are finally eligible for an appointment and will be required to obtain one. Chancellor Kent Syverud announced that students and faculty will be required to upload proof of vaccination in order to access campus facilities in the Summer and Fall semesters. Religious and medical exceptions will be accommodated. 

In an email sent to students from the SU Public Health Team, the university will administer the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine beginning April 7. With 1,600 doses available and more on the way, the school opened pre-registration for students interested in receiving a vaccine through the Barnes Center. 

The announcement from the Department of Health comes at a time when SU is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases across campus. According to the latest update of SU’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are currently 164 cases within Central New York, the most since late November when the school switched to remote learning. 

Despite the influx in cases, the new eligibility requirements brings some excitement to senior broadcast and digital journalism student John Macce. 

“I definitely will be getting a vaccine when the school makes it available,” Macce said. “With a lot of positive feedback about safety and now that all the people who are at the most risk have gotten their vaccine I feel okay getting it now.”

As a senior, Macce has seen the campus before the pandemic, and expects more vaccines to mean less regulations. 

“In terms of the school, I feel that once all students are able to receive a vaccine, the restrictions should be lowered. After all, we are 18, 19, 20 and 21 year olds, and it has been scientifically proven that we are at the least risk from suffering major health consequences,” he said. “Not that we should go back to full normal, but looking at what other schools in other states across the country are doing, I think it is time for us to get back to a resemblance of normal.”

David Althoff, an associate professor of biology, said this is an important day for the university, but this isn’t the end all be all.

That final step won’t be known until the population is vaccinated and the vaccine effectiveness is vetted through studies over many years.

“What we do know right now based on studies coming out is the vaccine seems to be pretty effective at preventing, contracting or having a severe reaction to COVID,” Althoff said. “What we don’t know currently is how long that immunity lasts.”

Ultimately, he said that as time goes on we will begin to get a better idea of when the masks can come off, but until the population is vaccinated and immunity is tested over a longer period, vigilance is key. 

“People need to be patient,” Althoff said, “I realize this has been a long process, but the thing to keep in mind is things are working, maybe a little bit slower than we want them to be, but they are working. Follow guidelines, stay safe, be smart and be patient.”