As Illinois enters Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, some universities roll out their own plans while others will defer to local and state public health departments.
The phase is for people over 65 and essential frontline workers, including first responders, Pre-K-12 education workers (including support staff), and public transit workers. Higher education workers will be included in Phase 1C.
Columbia College Chicago announced it will be a vaccination site for its employees and students, following local and state public health guidelines.
The University of Illinois health system, UI Health, will be offering the vaccine to University of Illinois community members as they become eligible. “The goal of the UI Health vaccine operations team is to get vaccine off the shelf and into the arms of individuals within the community to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the University of Illinois at Chicago in a statement.
Universities stress that social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines still have to be followed even as vaccines become available.
“It is important to recognize that the vaccine might not be widely available until later this year. It is essential that we continue to follow all of the precautions to create a healthy campus — including wearing masks, physical distancing, testing, hand-washing and health monitoring,” said Chief Risk and Compliance Officer Luke Figora in an email to members of the Northwestern university community.
Some universities are partnering with local health departments for their distribution plans.
Northern Illinois University’s announcement highlighted its partnership with DeKalb County Health Department for deciding employee and student eligibility in getting vaccinated.
“At this time, there is no information available from state or county officials regarding the timing of mass vaccination for the campus community,” said Illinois State University in their weekly update. The university is in contact with McLean County Health Department, which decides vaccine availability for the university.
Still, other universities have said they have no vaccine distribution plan in place.
In a recent statement, DePaul University revealed that “the city anticipates that vaccinations will not be available for most of the DePaul community until May 31.”
According to The DePaulia, the university currently does not have any “plans to help vaccinate their students and faculty members.”
Loyola University Chicago, last updated their FAQ website Dec. 8, stating, “When a vaccine is available, the University will be told by the Department of Public Health who, where, and when to vaccine.”
The Illinois Institute of Technology has not made any recent statements. The ‘Vaccines’ tab on their COVID website redirects to the official Chicago vaccine website.