Could colleges and universities play a large role in the vaccination effort?

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As vaccines become more widely available, colleges and universities across New York State could play a large role in the process. 

Currently, about 2,000 qualified SUNY health students have signed up to help with the vaccination effort. Fred Kowal with United University Professions says, as cases continue to rise, SUNY should be used as a resource to ramp up distribution.

“What is necessary, given the severity of the crisis with numbers skyrocketing, is that the vaccination effort has to be expanded significantly. And so, why not utilize all of the SUNY resources, including those who are preparing for medical professions, even at campuses outside of our academic medical centers,” Kowal said.

He notes there are nursing and EMT programs at other campuses that could be tapped into. 

SUNY has also set up vaccination centers at some campuses like Jamestown Community College and Nassau Community College.  Kowall says campuses are ideal spaces to give out the vaccine. 

“Think about the fact that campuses have gymnasiums, large rooms that can be used… to give the vaccines, but then also maintain physical distance and enable the process to take place safely. But, with the numbers of people being vaccinated, that is absolutely necessary,” Kowal said.

SUNY Upstate Medical University has used all of its allotted COVID-19 vaccines and is preparing to administer its next batch. Six thousand workers have now gotten their first dose.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed an executive order allowing the pool of trainees who can administer vaccinations to include certain eligible students. 

In a statement, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said:

“For weeks, our administration has been organizing a massive student volunteer effort, with more than 2000 qualified healthcare students interested in helping administer the vaccine, and thousands more expected to sign up in the weeks and months ahead. Additionally, many of our colleges have been designated as vaccination sites. This all-hands-on-deck effort involving students, faculty, staff, brothers and sisters in labor, and others across the SUNY community is consistent with our aggressive approach to helping New York State battle this Pandemic from the very beginning.”

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