In-person ASU faculty eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, Crow announces

Faculty who teach on campus will have the option to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Jan. 11 as part of the county's second phase of vaccinations

ASU faculty teaching classes in person this semester will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting the first day of spring classes, University President Michael Crow announced in an email Friday.

Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine plan for Maricopa County will begin Jan. 11 and allow those prioritized to begin scheduling to receive the vaccine at temporary sites throughout the state.

Those prioritized in this next phase include education and childcare providers, law enforcement, adults over the age of 75, adults living in congregate settings and essential workers, according to the county's website.

Crow wrote that hundreds of ASU employees have already received the vaccine as part of Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution, which included public health workers.

Joshua LaBaer, the executive director of the Biodesign Institute, was one of the ASU workers who already received the vaccine, he said in a weekly press briefing.

He said he had some muscle soreness after the shot, but "otherwise it really wasn't that bad at all" and he will be getting his second shot next week.

"As we vaccinate people in these first groups, they are not likely to affect the spread of the illness, mathematically, because the numbers are too small," LaBaer said. "But the hope will be that if we start to vaccinate people at high risk of bad outcome that we will start to see some alleviation in the hospitals, some reduction in the number of people in the intensive care units and maybe it'll ease up on the healthcare system a little bit."

Realistically, he said, that won't happen until mid-February. Even with a successful distribution of the vaccine, some people will still become infected because the vaccine is 95% effective, which "means one out of 20 people who gets vaccinated will not respond and will still potentially get COVID-19," he said.

The University will be sending additional details to faculty regarding registration for the vaccine to in-person faculty in the coming days, Crow wrote. More information about the vaccine will be sent to other employees and students as information becomes available.

Friday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had given Arizona over $65 million to support COVID-19 vaccine clinics "and strengthen vaccine confidence and community engagement."

Vaccinations in the state, like the rest of the U.S., have been slow. The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday only about one-third of available vaccines had been distributed.

Crow reminded all ASU community members to "Recommit to the ASU Community of Care Commitment" established last semester in response to the coronavirus, such as adhering to social distancing, wearing facial coverings and following other health guidelines during the spring semester.  

"COVID-19 cases remain high, nationally and in Arizona, and I know we all wish we could just 'be done' with this virus," Crow wrote. "But, as I’ve shared before, COVID-19 is not going away."

Despite the high rate of infections, ASU will continue with in-person classes available for students to attend, with even less flexibility for faculty. Classes taught in ASU Sync will not be able to transition to Zoom only without approval from the provost.

READ MORE: Professors now need provost approval to change ASU Sync classes to Zoom only

Last semester, ASU saw a large spike of infections after classes began, despite having a lower community spread than what is currently being seen in Arizona.

Learning and housing modes of operation remain the same as last semester, with class instruction offered both in-person and remotely and strict "security and enforcement of all ASU Community of Care protocols" on campus, Crow wrote.

Crow wrote that high-risk living situations have been reduced and students who repeatedly violate housing guidelines will be removed. Last semester over 100 students and 18 clubs received interim action for alleged COVID-19 violations.

"Our goal at ASU is to have the right systems, structures and protocols in place to manage the virus in a way that allows us to carry out our essential mission of advancing education, research and service to our community," Crow wrote.


Reach the reporter at wmyskow@asu.edu and follow @wmyskow on Twitter. 

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