If and when the Pennsylvania Department of Health calls on Penn State to become a COVID-19 distribution site, university officials say they have plans in place to act quickly.
The university announced last week that it purchased a freezer for the proper storage of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The plans also include vetting campus facilities for storage and distribution, evaluating staffing requirements, and technology for patient registration, location planning, and vaccine management and status tracking.
In addition, Penn State is identifying employees that are currently eligible to be vaccinated. Under the current Phase 1A of Pennsylvania’s distribution plan, all residents age 65 and older and individuals with certain underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus are eligible for the vaccine.
“We’ve offered our assistance to the Pennsylvania Department of Health to help with vaccine distribution and are ready to assist if called upon,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “We’ve leveraged our considerable expertise in areas such as logistics, information technology, communications, and health care — with various Penn State units and academic colleges stepping up — to formulate a robust plan to be prepared if the state looks to the University for further support. This may provide a valuable option in meeting vaccinating our campus communities, as well as the surrounding communities if asked.”
Penn State has helped certain front-line employees receive vaccinations under the states current priority phase, including workers from Office of the Physical Plant, dining and residence halls and health care personnel. Education workers who are in contact with students, including undergraduate and graduate students that help with instruction or health-related services, are eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1B.
After vaccine distribution is no longer needed from Penn State, the university will use the vaccine freezers for research purposes.