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Duke can deliver 25,000 vaccine doses a week, hopes for in-person commencement: Key points from admin talk

<p>(Clockwise from top left) President Vincent Price, Executive Vice President Daniel Ennis, Provost Sally Kornbluth and Chancellor for Health Affairs A. Eugene Washington participated in a Monday conversation for faculty and staff.</p>

(Clockwise from top left) President Vincent Price, Executive Vice President Daniel Ennis, Provost Sally Kornbluth and Chancellor for Health Affairs A. Eugene Washington participated in a Monday conversation for faculty and staff.

Duke has the capacity to deliver 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines per week, Chancellor for Health Affairs A. Eugene Washington said at a Monday conversation with administrators

At the talk, administrators spoke to Duke’s vaccination efforts, hopes for an in-person communication and plans for summer 2021 programs. Here are some key takeaways.

Vaccination efforts

The University has been vaccinating health care workers as well as students and faculty working in clinical settings or in labs studying COVID-19, according to Washington, also president and CEO of the Duke University Health System.

Duke does not own doses of the vaccine—it only acts as a “custodian” of the doses it receives. As a result, the University continues to follow state guidelines for vaccination, in which people age 65 and above—and healthcare workers—can qualify for a vaccine. The University has the capacity to deliver 25,000 doses every week, Washington said.  

The University is also working to ensure “equitable distribution in Wake County and here in Durham,” he said. 

Last week, Duke Health opened seven new locations to administer the vaccine, including one at Southern High School, he said. The goal is to identify sites that will be acceptable for “some of the more vulnerable citizens in the community.” 

Once Duke opens another such site in a few weeks, the University and health system would be able to vaccinate 5,000 people a day, Washington said.

Commencement and summer plans

Duke’s “strong preference” is to hold an in-person commencement, President Vincent Price said in a Monday conversation with administration for faculty and staff.

He acknowledged that commencement in 2021 will not look like a traditional graduation and that Duke would not be able to hold an in-person graduation under current coronavirus conditions in North Carolina. Much will depend on whether the pandemic will be less pervasive by that point in time and whether the vaccine is effectively administered to the North Carolina and Duke community, Price said.

“If we determine that we will be able to safely offer an in-person event in May, it’s likely to be limited in scope and in attendance,” he said. 

An announcement about commencement will likely come in February, according to Price.

Provost Sally Kornbluth provided an update on summer plans: Summer 2021 will focus on undergraduate classes and other opportunities for undergraduate students living on campus, including research labs, programs like Data+ and local DukeEngage programs. 

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