ISU planning is underway for vaccine rollout

An initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in Iowa this month, and Iowa State is preparing to help the state implement its distribution plan.

Under the Iowa Department of Public Health strategy for a phased approach to vaccine rollout, the limited amounts of vaccine available in the coming weeks will go first to health care workers and long-term care facilities. State officials expect Iowa to receive 172,000 vaccine doses in December. 

According to a Dec. 9 campus message from associate vice president for student health and wellness Erin Baldwin and COVID-19 public health coordinator Kristen Obbink, ISU's public health and emergency operations teams are working closely with state and local partners on vaccine distribution preparation, including a comprehensive vaccination plan for the general public once supply is more widely available. Thielen Student Health Center is authorized to administer the vaccine on campus to students, faculty and staff.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected later this month to approve emergency use of vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna. Both vaccines require two separate injections a few weeks apart. To be stored longer than 30 days, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be frozen at temperatures of minus 94 degrees F. Iowa State has secured ultra-low temperature freezer space for vaccines. 

While the COVID-19 protocols in campus offices and classrooms during spring semester 2021 will be similar to fall 2020, the availability of vaccines could mean big changes by next fall, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told the Professional and Scientific Council at its Dec. 3 meeting.

"Looking forward to the fall, it's certainly my hope that things will start coming closer to what we remember as normal once the vaccines become widely available," he said.  

Wickert said widespread vaccination of the campus community is unlikely by the start of spring semester on Jan. 25.