Temple University began administering first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to eligible students, faculty and employees at White Hall today during the first day of operations for the university’s Main Campus vaccine clinic, which will be open two days a week for six weeks.
Temple opened the invitation-only clinic to students, faculty, staff and city residents to be a “point of distribution” for the university and North Philadelphia, The Temple News reported.
Philadelphia is currently in Phase 1B of its vaccine rollout, which includes frontline essential workers, people aged 65 and older, people with high-risk medical conditions and those who live or work in long-term care facilities, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Students, faculty and employees who live in Philadelphia and are interested in getting vaccinated should complete Temple’s vaccine interest form while city residents should complete the city’s form to be contacted by the university, said Mark Denys, director of Student Health Services.
Temple students, faculty and staff will receive shots on Wednesdays, while city residents will receive their vaccines on Thursdays, The Temple News reported.
The university will provide first doses during the first three weeks the clinic is open and second doses during the final three weeks.
At the clinic, guests entered the residence hall and completed a screening process before being admitted into an adjacent room to be vaccinated. After the vaccine was administered, guests were asked to wait in one of White Hall’s bedrooms for 15 minutes to monitor their reactions to the vaccine and schedule an appointment to receive their second dose.
Temple will administer approximately 1,100 doses of the Pfizer vaccine it receives from the city each week, The Temple News reported. The Pfizer vaccine uses mRNA technology to produce antibodies against COVID-19 and requires two doses at least 21 days apart, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 6,000 Temple students, faculty and employees completed the university’s vaccine interest form as of March 30, The Temple News reported.
David Feldman, a planning and regional development professor, received his first dose of the vaccine at White Hall today. Feldman looks forward to spending more time with his family after he receives his second dose on April 21, he said.
“I might actually get to see my daughter for the first time since October,” Feldman said.
Feldman’s glad Temple is making the effort to vaccinate residents as well and hopes it can strengthen Temple’s relationship with North Central.
“While there’s tension, there’s also ties between Temple and the community,” Feldman said. “Anything that builds on the ties, not the tensions, is a good thing.”
3,271 residents in the 19121 ZIP code and 2,030 in 19122 have been fully vaccinated, The Temple News reported.
Meghan Isaacs, who received her first dose today, was surprised at how the university transformed White Hall into a vaccine clinic.
“It was kind of weird honestly,” said Isaacs, a senior painting major. “It was kind of eerie walking in because they have all the beds flipped.”
Temple is using White Hall as a vaccination clinic because there are no students currently living there, The Temple News reported. In September 2020, students living in the residence hall were relocated to 1300 Residence Hall, Morgan Hall North, Morgan Hall South or Beech International Village.
Isaacs, who has asthma, was invited to schedule her appointment almost immediately after she completed Temple’s vaccine interest form, she said. After receiving her first dose today, she scheduled her appointment for her second dose on April 21.
She hopes the clinic will provide access for more students and city residents who have struggled to get vaccinated.
“I know so many people who are struggling to get it,” Isaacs added.
The city’s vaccination rollout has been complicated by vaccine shortages and distribution issues, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Vaccine clinics have also struggled to keep ineligible people from signing up to receive vaccinations, slowing distribution to those who are eligible.
Pennsylvania ranks 34th in the nation for percentage of residents fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Jalisa Whiting-Smalls, a second-year social work student, completed Temple’s interest form on March 22 and scheduled her appointment the next day after receiving an email from Student Health Services. The sign-up and vaccination processes were “smooth and easy,” she said.
Whiting-Smalls is pregnant and is a social worker at Children and Youth Services in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She was glad to have not had to wait in line for her vaccine, she said.
“Especially if you’re eligible, most of these people are physically ill so I shouldn’t have to be physically ill standing in a line,” Whiting-Smalls added.
Kristen Kuipers, director of marketing for the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, is glad she could get the vaccine so that she can safely go out in public when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, she said.
“That’s important to me, I want my life to come back to normal as much as possible, so if it means I have to show a vaccine card, I’ll do it,” Kuipers said.
Experts expect the United States will reach herd immunity, when enough people are protected against infection that the virus cannot spread further, by vaccinating between 65 and 80 percent of the population, CNN reported on Feb. 26.
Seventy percent of the U.S. population could be vaccinated by mid-June and 90 percent could be vaccinated by the end of July, the New York Times reported.
Temple will begin vaccinating residents from neighboring ZIP codes who are eligible in Phase 1B and completed the city’s interest form tomorrow at White Hall. As of March 31, more than 523,000 Philadelphians received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more 266,000 are fully vaccinated, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
Kuipers is glad that city residents can access the site too and hopes that this will help safely bring students back to campus, she said.
The university announced plans to hold mostly in-person classes in Fall 2021, The Temple News reported.
Temple highly recommends, but will not require, students, faculty and staff receive a COVID-19 vaccine before the start of the Fall 2021 semester, Denys said.
“I wanted to take advantage of it, but I hope that it’s more for the community as well in North Philly because I think that’s important, especially if we want to bring people back in the summer and the fall,” Kuipers said.