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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa universities and colleges are vaccinating students, faculty and staff in droves — using massive clinics and scheduled appointments — in hopes of honoring their promise of having a more traditional semester this fall.
“It’s a lot easier than having to figure out a time between work and classes to drive somewhere,” University of Iowa junior Izabel Houselog, 21, said about the on-campus clinic in the Iowa Memorial Union while she sat Wednesday through her obligatory 15-minute post-vaccine wait.
Houselog is taking 18 credit hours, working and has plenty on her plate with final exams approaching — making the option of popping into the IMU for a pair of shots spaced three weeks apart much easier than trying to find an appointment elsewhere.
Because Houselog’s hometown is nearby North Liberty, she wasn’t worried about needing the two-shot vaccine, after federal regulators recently paused use of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson option due to concerns over rare side effects. And she was excited to get it — sailing through the IMU setup where dozens of UI Student Health workers and volunteers doled out hundreds of shots, Band-Aid and vaccination cards throughout the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday clinic.
“If the opportunity arose around here,” Houselog said, referring to the UI campus, “I was going to jump on it. So I was excited.”
The UI campus repeated its clinic Thursday, expecting to vaccinate close to 2,000 students over the two days.
Iowa State University this week and next also is offering first-dose clinics on campus, with follow-up shot clinics scheduled throughout May.
Its mass vaccination site is the campus’ State Gym, with shifts running from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Preliminary calculations indicate ISU could vaccinate over 2,000 students a day.
And the University of Northern Iowa held its campus vaccination clinics last week. UNI, however, had to cancel its first event, meant specifically for students wanting the single-shot dose.
Kirkwood Community College — holding on-campus clinics this week for students, faculty and staff by appointment — announced Thursday it’s expanding access to walk-ins from the public. Starting Thursday afternoon — and continuing while supplies last — anyone over 16 wanting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could go to the Michael J. Gould Recreation Center on the Kirkwood Main Campus in Cedar Rapids with a valid ID to start the vaccination process.
A clinic there runs from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.
The UI clinic, too, reported capacity to handle more students wanting a shot, according to UI Student Health Director Paul Natvig.
Though initial guidance mandated people get their first and second doses in the same place — potentially complicating the two-shot process for students planning to head out of town after classes end — Natvig said people now can get first and second doses in different locations. And some might, he said, although UI Student Health expects to be relatively busy for its second-shot clinics in May.
UI freshman Talia Van Santen said she’s planning to return to the IMU for her follow-up. She was happy to have the chance to get it there — even though she hates needles.
“Try not to look,” a clinic worker told Van Santen as she braced for the poke.
“I'm scared of needles,” Van Santen said. “But I wanted the vaccine. I really truly did want it. And it's nice that Iowa’s actually offering us a chance to get it done here on campus. Because I don't have a car right now. I can’t just drive out somewhere and get it done.”
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