Elon’s first wave of on-campus vaccine rollout quickly followed Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 23 announcement that announced the expansion of vaccine eligibility and eased North Carolina COVID-19 restrictions are being eased.
Cooper hosted a press conference during which he announced increases on indoor and outdoor gathering sizes, increases on capacity limits for certain businesses and on-site alcohol sale. In addition, he announced that Group 4, which includes those living in group housing, will be eligible to receive vaccinations beginning March 31. However, the town of Elon gathering limits are stricter than the state's.
The town order went into effect March 26 and indoor gathering limits have been raised to 25 and outdoor gatherings are raised to 50 for town of Elon residents. Jeff Stein, chair of the Ready & Resilient committee, believes that as more people get vaccinated, these restrictions will ease further.
“If we could get to 80% of the campus vaccinated, we know that gets us closer to herd immunity, and that would allow us to ease the restrictions,” Stein said.
The university has received approximately 1,800 doses of Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccines, according to an announcement from the university. Anyone in Group's 1-4 are eligible and Group 5 will be eligible on April 7. The clinic runs April 6-9 and April 12. Those eligible can sign-up online.
Students who were able to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Monday will be fully vaccinated by April 12. Freshman Cole Carney, a public health major and Maker Hub staff member, said even though he knew he was likely to experience symptoms afterwards, he still went ahead and received the vaccine the moment he was able to.
“I’m very thankful that Elon has decided to provide students with an opportunity to go to a clinic,” Carney said. “Because so many students are living on campus in close quarters and that there is a danger of student gatherings, I’m glad we’re taking an initiative.”
The university was previously allocated 500 vaccines, a mixture of the Pfizer two-dose and Johnson & Johnson single-dose, available to student workers or high-risk individuals. South Gym hosted clinics on Saturday, March 27, and Monday, March 29, and Stein said Elon hopes to repeat the success of these clinics when vaccines become available for all of Group 4 on March 31.
“The fact that students can now be vaccinated on March 31 — and … we think we’re going to get more doses and be able to have on-campus clinics — suggests all those things are moving in the right direction,” Stein said.
Despite the progress Elon and North Carolina have made, Stein warned students that mask wearing and physical distancing are still essential. The on-campus COVID-19 positivity rate has been increasing since March 17, with more daily cases and students in quarantine and isolation this past week than the rest of March. Increased testing options have been encouraged through the Ready & Resilient Committee, and weekly emails from Dooley encourage students to continue to stay safe in the pandemic.