UArizona Vaccination Site Tops 100,000 Doses Administered
The university announced the milestone on the same day that it moved into Stage 3 of its instructional plan, allowing classes of up to 100 students to meet in person.
The University of Arizona's COVID-19 vaccination site reached a milestone over the weekend, surpassing 100,000 doses administered.
The site has now administered a total of 102,734 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, President Robert C. Robbins announced Monday during his virtual weekly briefing on the university's COVID-19 status.
The announcement came on the same day the university is transitioning to Stage 3 of its instructional plan, allowing courses of up to 100 students to meet in person.
"I can't tell you how impressed I am and how appreciative," Robbins said of the efforts at the vaccination site.
"The volunteers, the faculty, the staff, the students at the University of Arizona have come together in an incredible show of collaboration (and) cooperation in fulfilling our land-grant mission to administer 102,000 doses of this vaccine," he said. "That is truly remarkable, and I will always remember this and be eternally grateful."
As the university moves into Stage 3, Robbins stressed that following basic public health guidelines, getting vaccinated and being regularly tested for COVID-19 remain important for the university community – especially on the heels of the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant being detected on campus. The university announced last week that the variant had been found through a research study being conducted in university labs.
"Those variants that are more transmissible are more likely to become prevalent in our communities, but the vaccines do work," Robbins said. "The sooner we can all be vaccinated the better."
Anyone age 16 or older is now eligible to schedule an appointment at state vaccination sites, including the one at UArizona. Appointments can be scheduled through the Arizona Department of Health Services website. Those needing assistance can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 602-542-1000 or 844-542-8201 for help in both Spanish and English. About 22.6% of people vaccinated at the UArizona POD, or point of distribution, have identified as Hispanic or Latinx.
The vaccination POD is also in need of volunteers, Robbins said, and the goal is to vaccinate volunteers after a single shift. Non-medical volunteers can find information on the university's COVID-19 website. Medical volunteers should sign up through the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Testing, Contact Tracing Compliance Urged
The number of COVID-19 cases on campus remains low, and weekly testing continues to be required for students and employees who come to campus.
However, there has been a decline in compliance with mandatory testing for students, Robbins said. Between March 22 and March 26, 6,845 tests were administered to students and employees with 23 positives – a positivity rate of 0.34%. The positivity rate is slightly higher when you look at just students – 0.5% for students who live on campus and 0.4% for off-campus students.
Those who are fully vaccinated can get a testing exemption by uploading their vaccination record to the Campus Health website.
"Please, if you're among the groups that are required to test weekly, keep your appointments," Robbins said. "If we do not know of new cases on campus, we can't isolate them. … This will make it more difficult to continue in Stage 3."
Robbins also said the university's face coverings requirement remains in effect, and Gov. Doug Ducey's executive order regarding COVID-19 restrictions does not affect university policies. Face coverings must be worn in campus building and in outdoor spaces when 6 feet of physical distance is difficult or impossible to maintain.
With the discovery of the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant on campus, Robbins also urged cooperation with contact tracing efforts.
"It's critically important that you answer your phone when contact tracers call, and please be honest and transparent and open about all of your close contacts," he said. "Remember, it's for the good of the public health that we do this."
Variants May be Contagious Longer
Michael Worobey, head of the university's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, joined Monday's briefing to talk about COVID-19 variants.
Worobey has been involved in research using COVID-19 genomic sequencing to track the origin and spread of the virus, and he also launched the use of a saline swish-gargle test to detect COVID-19 on campus. About two weeks ago, Worobey detected the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, in eight samples collected on campus. Worobey found four additional cases of what appear to be B.1.1.7 last week, along with two appear to be B.1.429 – a variant first identified in California that is also more transmissible.
These variants not only are more contagious but also may be transmissible for longer periods of time, Worobey said.
"When we look to the literature, we can see that the time when people are likely infectious is probably carried over a little bit later with this (B.1.1.7) variant," Worobey said. "That really indicates that a slightly longer isolation or quarantine time is really a smart move. We're dealing with a different beast here, and we need to act accordingly."
As a result, the university has decided to increase the required quarantine time for students who test positive for COVID-19 and move into isolation dorms from 10 days to 14 days.
"This is really a wake-up call that we're not done yet," Worobey said. "We still need to not just maintain but to some degree redouble our efforts in terms if mitigation measures – wearing those masks, keeping social distance and everyone getting, as soon as they can, a vaccine through our tremendous POD that we have here on campus."
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