State stops Rider plan for on-campus vaccine clinic

By Stephen Neukam

New Jersey has put a hold on Rider’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine on its campus in the coming weeks, with the state yet to authorize the use of the shots at the university, according to an email from the school on April 20.

The university is in agreement with a provider to distribute the Moderna vaccine on its campus, according to Vice President for Strategic and Planning and Secretary to the Board Debbie Stasolla. The school was hoping to make an announcement about the vaccine in the coming weeks.

The hold up, according to Stasolla, is the supply of vaccines from the state. The provider, which she would not disclose, has to wait to secure the doses from New Jersey, but the process has been disrupted by national supply chain issues with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and worries about its safety.

“I think it has been influenced somewhat because of some of the redistribution of vaccines very recently because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been taken out of the picture,” said Stasolla.

The company’s vaccine was put on hold to investigate possible links between the shots and serious bloodclots, putting the national vaccine rollout in flux. Centers for Disease Control representatives are expected to meet later this week to discuss how to move forward, according to reporting by CNN.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci said on April 18 that he expected the vaccine to be back in use by the end of the week, possibly with new restrictions.

Stasolla said that there were “several hundred” students indicated that they would be willing to get vaccinated on campus. Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo said that there was “a lot of interest” in getting the shots at the school, in an interview with The Rider News on April 13.

The administration will not abandon its pursuit to offer the vaccines on its campus. Stasolla said that while the news was “disappointing”, the school is still working to offer the immunizations.

“We’re still working with a provider to see if we can provide vaccines for students, only at a later time frame,” said Stasolla. “We’re certainly going to work toward that end.”

The campus vaccinations would be a step in the right direction for the university, which is planning on more normal operations for its campus next semester.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on university budgets across the country — Rider has not been immune to the effects. Increased operations on campus would be a boon to university spreadsheets, which lost tens of millions of dollars in revenue due to the pandemic.

The increased availability of vaccines has seen New Jersey move to among the top states in percentage of residents vaccinated. As of April 19, over 46% of New Jersey’s population has received at least one shot, with 30% fully vaccinated, according to statistics from the New York Times. New Jersey is the seventh-highest state in vaccination percentage.

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