IU will receive more than 6,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses exclusively for students, faculty and staff, as a part of a new Indiana initiative to get students vaccinated, IU-Bloomington COVID-19 Response Unit Lead Kirk White said in a city press conference Friday.
IU’s COVID-19 vaccination site is Monroe County’s primary vaccination site, which means those not affiliated with the university can get vaccinated at the site. White said Friday the state will send IU’s site the typical allocation for Monroe County, but will also include additional vaccinations specifically for the students, faculty and staff.
White said the state will send a specific sign-up link through email to IU students, faculty and staff as early as Friday.
“The invitation is going directly to the university community,” White said. “It will not be fully open to the public on those particular days.”
IU’s site will be administering the Pfizer vaccine, which is so far the only approved COVID-19 vaccine for those between the ages of 16 and 18. White encouraged students to sign up through the email if they don’t already have an appointment.
“So if you get that, it’s something you should pay attention to,” White said. “We will also be sending a university email out to remind students, faculty and staff of this initiative as well.”
IU expects the Pfizer clinics for students, faculty and staff to start operations April 5, according to an email sent to unvaccinated students, faculty and staff.
Indiana will lift its statewide mask mandate April 6, though Monroe County will not be lifting its restrictions. Mayor John Hamilton criticized Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision during the press conference.
“In my view, Governor Holcomb’s recent announcement to remove the mask mandate at the state level is terribly misguided and unfortunate,” Hamilton said. “It makes no sense to me, given the risks in the coming weeks, and the importance of staying the course to avoid a possible fourth surge. It makes no sense to make that change.”
Monroe County Health Department Administrator Penny Caudill said at least one case of all four coronavirus variants have been identified in Indiana and maintaining the mask mandate and the social gathering restrictions is the best path forward, as of now. The county’s COVID-19 advisory rose to yellow Wednesday the positivity rate increased to 0.85% and an increase in cases per 100,000 residents.
Monroe County Emergency Management Director Allison Moore announced at the press conference that the county will continue their mass notification emergency alert system for at least the next three years. The service provides emergency updates such as weather warnings and expansions of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for those who opt into the service.