COVID-19 Vaccines: Government Policy and Embry-Riddle’s Plan Moving Forward

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By Julian O’Connor, Correspondent

Despite the amount of news coverage regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it can sometimes be hard to find clear information about subjects such as vaccine distribution, and when the various vaccines will be available to people such as college students. With this lack of information, some students may assume that they will not get their vaccine until fairly late in the cycle; however, this may not be the case. 

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided recommendations for vaccine roll outs across the United States. However, as they note, each state follows its own established guidelines. The CDC guidelines are, in summary: In Phase 1A, healthcare personnel and residents of long term care facilities should be vaccinated. After that, in Phase 1B, the CDC recommends that frontline essential workers such as firefighters, grocery store workers, and educators, as well as people 75 years of age and older get vaccinated. In Phase 1C, people aged 65-74 years old; 16-64 with underlying medical conditions; and other essential workers, including public safety, food service, and information technology workers should be vaccinated. In Phases 2 and 3, the vaccine would be released to the remaining population, prioritizing additional high-risk groups first.  In Phases 2 and 3, the vaccine would be released to the remaining population.

The CDC says that its recommendations were made with three goals in mind: to decrease death and serious disease as much as possible, preserve the functioning of society, and reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is inflicting on those already facing disparities. 

As the CDC noted, states may make their own vaccine roll out plans based on their unique circumstances. As it stands, the vaccine roll out plan in Yavapai County is as follows: in Phase 1A, vaccinate healthcare, healthcare support, and emergency medical services workers, as well as those living and/or working in long-term care facilities. In Phase 1B, vaccinate education and childcare workers, protective service occupations, those 65 years and older, essential services workers, and adults with high-risk conditions in congregate settings. In Phase 1C, vaccinate adults of any age with high-risk conditions, as well as adults living in congregate settings.

Yavapai County states, as of Mar. 10, 2021, that it is 50 percent complete with Phase 1B, and 98 percent complete with Phase 1A. Phase 1C has not yet started. 

Sandra Palmer, director of the Wellness Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus, provides some insight into what Yavapai County’s vaccination policies mean for Embry-Riddle students, saying that “Most students would not be considered eligible for vaccines yet – those students who live in campus housing are included in Phase 1C which should open sometime this spring.” 

Palmer adds that Phase 1B does include education workers, such as Embry-Riddle faculty and staff. She also mentions that “ERAU has signed up to be a distribution site for vaccines.” On Mar. 11th, the university held its first vaccine clinic in the Activity Center staffed by student volunteers in partnership with Spectrum Healthcare.Palmer says that doses of the vaccines provided to Embry-Riddle are allotted by Yavapai County Health. 

Palmer concludes by saying that “We are trying all options we can to bring the ERAU community vaccines and strongly encourage everyone who can get vaccinated to do so when the first opportunity presents – we have no guarantees that we will be able to get vaccines at this time but will continue to try.” 

“Get vaccinated as soon as possible,” reads an Embry-Riddle headline from Mar. 12th. Those interested in learning more about vaccines and distribution in our area can visit the following websites for more information:

[https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations.html] The US CDC’s website, which provides information on their recommendations for vaccine roll outs. 

[https://www.yavapai.us/chs/Home/COVID-19/Vaccine] The website of Yavapai County, which provides current information on the state of the vaccine roll out across the country that holds Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus. 

[https://erau.edu/coronavirus] Embry-Riddle’s university-wide communication page, frequently updates with information regarding COVID-19.

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