Penn State Still ‘Exploring’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, Won’t Require Shots Yet

Although COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will rapidly expand in Pennsylvania next month, Penn State isn’t ready to require shots for students and employees just yet.

Pennsylvania’s expanded vaccine rollout will allow all adults statewide to begin booking COVID-19 vaccine appointments by April 19. Although the university can’t administer shots itself, administrators believe vaccines are key to getting back to “normal.”

“This is just great news in terms of our university being able to get back to a more normal way of life,” Penn State President Eric Barron said during a virtual livestream Wednesday.

Notably, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s current vaccine rollout plan hasn’t roped in universities just yet. Kelly Wolgast, director of Penn State’s COVID-19 Operations Control Center, said the university is engaged in frequent and routine contact with the state to “further explore” possibilities of becoming a vaccine distribution site.

Last month, Penn State purchased large freezers that could properly store Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which must be kept at a specific temperature. Although the university isn’t stocking doses just yet, Barron said he’s pleased Penn State planned ahead and remains able to help out if needed.

Wolgast also said University Health Services is taking “aggressive action” to be prepared for possible COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The on-campus pharmacy, for example, is in the process of applying for status to become a federally approved site to administer vaccines.

Earlier this month, the Bryce Jordan Center hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic through Centre Volunteers in Medicine. Wolgast said the organization plans to use the venue for another clinic next week to administer previously helped patients’ second shots.

She noted, though, that Penn State has logistical plans for on-campus vaccination clinics, too. Wolgast said procedures remain ready for clinics at a number of locations around campus, ranging from the BJC to parking lots.

Some colleges, including Rutgers, have already announced plans to require COVID-19 vaccinations for students next fall. Barron said Penn State will monitor vaccination statistics and outcomes this spring but can’t commit to requiring shots for students and employees just yet.

“It’s too early to say something about a requirement,” Barron said. “I do think that when we hit that milestone of President Biden and availability for all adults after the 19th of April, the volume of data and information that we have will grow substantially, and we’ll have a better sense of how well protected we are as we go into the summer and the fall.”

The president also touched on some peoples’ skepticism surrounding the different vaccines that are currently available. Remember, folks: The best vaccine is the one that’s available to you.

“The minute you get a chance, sign up,” Barron said. “Any of the vaccines are all excellent. Whatever vaccine is available, take it.”

Students and Centre County residents can get a head start on booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment by using waitlists from Mount Nittany HealthCentre Volunteers in Medicine, and more. Appointments also are available through providers listed on the Department of Health‘s website.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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