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More at Duke can get COVID-19 vaccine, students in congregate housing to be eligible April 7

The remainder of Duke’s faculty and staff in Group 3 can register for the COVID-19 vaccine, and college students in congregate housing are projected to be eligible beginning April 7—though the exact date remains unclear and depends on the state government.

In a series of emails sent from the co-leaders of the Duke COVID Vaccination Work Group, administrators laid out the possibilities for vaccination of Duke students, faculty and staff.

Administrators wrote in a March 2 email that all Duke housekeepers, dining staff and faculty teaching face-to-face on-site—approximately 600 people—were invited to receive the vaccine. Prior to March 2, the University had a “small option” that allowed them to invite three residential coordinators to receive the vaccine, wrote Vice President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh in an email to The Chronicle.

The administration wrote in its March 2 email that due to limited and variable weekly vaccine supply and experiences with Duke Health staff, the University expects that it could take “as long as three months” to provide vaccinations to all employees eligible under Group 3. These projections are all completely dependent upon availability from the state, Cavanaugh added.

Cavanaugh told The Chronicle March 5 that thus far, the primary focus has still been on health care workers and those over the age of 65—those in Groups 1 and 2. “Great progress has been made but there are still individuals that need to be vaccinated in these groups,” he wrote.

Future eligibility

According to the administration’s March 11 email, all others on the Duke payroll—including teaching and research assistants—will be invited beginning next week to schedule an appointment. Teaching assistants will be eligible under either Group 3 or 4, Cavanaugh wrote.

The administration also announced March 11 that a subset of Group 4 individuals—adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness, homeless and incarcerated individuals—will be eligible for the vaccine starting March 17.

Cavanaugh wrote that as of March 14, all remaining faculty and staff classified in Group 3—including student residential assistants and other Student Affairs staff in student-facing roles, researchers working in labs, teaching assistants and dining contract staff—have been invited to schedule a vaccine appointment. 

North Carolina plans to make people living in congregate housing—who are also classified under Group 4—eligible for vaccination beginning April 7. According to the state, some vaccine providers “may not be ready to open to Group 4 on this date if they are still experiencing high demand for vaccines in Groups 1 through 3.”

Limits to availability

Cavanaugh emphasized that eligibility does not mean availability, which remains “completely dependent” on distribution from the state to providers. He explained that the state communicates the supply of vaccines available each week “approximately a week in advance so it is not completely known how many options we may have two weeks from now.” 

As a result, “planning with accuracy has been a challenge,” he wrote. “At this point we have no specific information regarding availability from the state past the next few weeks.”

Cavanaugh added that no one should limit their options to Duke if they are “eligible and interested in being vaccinated.”

The administration encouraged people in its March 11 email to “explore all options for vaccination, such as local public health departments, pharmacies and other providers that may have additional supply.”

The Health System has administered more than 100,000 vaccines since December, according to Cavanaugh.

Halle Friedman contributed reporting.

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