COVID-19 vaccine updates for students


Anna Kate Munsey

For many University of New Hampshire (UNH) students, April was the month of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. All became eligible in one way or another, and many received their first or second shot.

COVID-19 vaccines are free and widely available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that Americans get the vaccine when eligible. They note that the vaccines are “safe and effective,” and that “many people have reported only mild side effects after COVID-19 vaccination.”

Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States – Pfizer and Moderna (each two-dose), and single-shot Johnson & Johnson. Generally, individuals do not get to pick which type they receive, although there are sometimes specific Johnson & Johnson clinics that anyone eligible can register for.

UNH hosted several COVID-19 vaccine clinics throughout the month of April. There were two for in-state students, faculty and staff; followed by one opened up to all members of the community – including out-of-state students and those not participating in the university’s testing and tracing program. There will be three more clinics held this week and next, where second doses of the vaccine will be administered to those who participated in the April clinics.

Many community members also opted to receive the vaccine at one of New Hampshire’s state-run vaccine clinics.

UNH’s Assistant Director of Emergency Management Ronald O’Keefe said in a previous interview with The New Hampshire that the university received over 4,200 vaccine appointments during the first clinics; almost 3,400 of these were students. The second clinic administered an additional 2,356 shots.

University leaders have encouraged students, faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made available to them. “While the university does not currently require the COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage every eligible member of our community to be vaccinated… The more vaccinated people, the sooner the university can consider changes to required COVID protocols,” wrote UNH Chief of Police Paul Dean and Health & Wellness Medical Director Peter Degnan in an email on April 2.

It is unclear at this time whether or not UNH will require students to have been vaccinated for the fall semester. Many colleges have already made this decision, including other New England public universities such as UMass Lowell.

While a vaccine is a step back toward “normal,” many COVID-19 protocols are still in place. Mask-wearing is required when indoors or around large groups of strangers outside, and students must continue participating in the university’s testing system.

So, what should you do if you have not received the COVID-19 vaccine? There are several options available. As of April 19, per President Joe Biden’s order, all adults in the United States are eligible for the vaccine. So, at the very least, you should be able to register in your home state. They each have a different procedure, system, and software, so consult your state’s department of health and human services webpage to learn more. Check out the CDC’s location tracker here.

Another option is to receive your COVID-19 vaccination in our neighboring state of Maine. On Wednesday, they announced that they will vaccinate anyone 16 and older, regardless of their residency status. Several locations throughout the state are offering walk-in appointments.

Oftentimes, local clinics and pharmacies will have extra doses they are looking to get rid of. Keep an eye out on social media and the web for these opportunities, as well.

It is not known at this time what vaccination opportunities UNH could offer in the future.

Photo courtesy of TNH Staff.