UArizona Rolls Out Vaccinations, New Testing Requirements

cars lined up next to a "vaccine" sign with arrows

A drive-thru vaccine clinic opened on the University of Arizona Mall on Jan. 19.

Chris Richards/University of Arizona

COVID-19 vaccinations began today at a drive-thru clinic on the University of Arizona Mall. The university has been designated by the Pima County Health Department as a vaccine point of distribution for child care providers and K-12 and university teachers and staff – a subpopulation of priority Phase 1B of the county's vaccination plan.

Select members of the university community received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine on campus on Friday as the university worked to establish a process for vaccinations. Today through Thursday, 132 K-12 teachers will receive the vaccine on campus each day, along with 42 university employees on Wednesday and on Thursday. On Friday, 250 child care providers and 250 K-12 employees will be vaccinated at the UArizona site, President Robert C. Robbins said Tuesday in his weekly briefing on the university's COVID-19 status.

Registration for vaccines at the University of Arizona is managed through Pima County. More information on the process, including eligibility requirements and how to register, is available on the university's COVID-19 vaccine website and in the UArizona News article "COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin at UArizona."

This week, the university remains in Phase 1 of its reentry plan with only essential classes such as research labs and performing arts courses held in person. About 3,800 students are enrolled in essential courses. The rest of classes are being offered in an online format. The university started the spring semester on Jan. 13 in Phase 1, just as it did in the fall 2020 semester. Additional in-person instruction may be permitted later in the semester if public health conditions allow, Robbins said.

Since Jan. 11, the university has administered more than 9,329 COVID-19 diagnostic tests with 167 positives, for a positivity rate of 1.79%. Testing numbers are updated regularly on the university's COVID-19 website.

Dorm residents who test positive are placed in isolation housing. There are 28 students in isolation housing now, which leaves 568 beds – or 95% of the isolation bed capacity – available, Robbins said.

With Arizona leading the nation in COVID-19 cases, the university will ramp up testing efforts on campus, requiring students who live in dorms to get tested twice a week, with at least 48 hours between each test. The university is using a saline gargle PCR test for its students.

Robbins stressed that caution remains vital, even with indicators of slight improvements locally.

"In terms of both testing positivity rate and resource availability on campus, we are in a relatively good position," Robbins said. "Hospitalizations have begun to decrease in the Tucson area as well. However, the numbers remain high, and this decline could be temporary as the rate of spread of the virus remains concerning."   


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