11:39:08 Vaccine Clinic

A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is injected into a patient’s arm on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at UK’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

UK is opening vaccination locations for COVID-19 and influenza around campus. As of Oct. 27, 89.2% of the UK community has received both COVID-19 vaccinations.

UK president Eli Capilouto recently set a goal to reach the threshold of 90% of the university being vaccinated with at least one of the COVID-19 vaccinations. 

At the same time, more of the campus is becoming eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster shot. Students must be at least 18 years old and show increased risk for the virus due to a job, living situation or underlying health condition to qualify.

As a result, new locations around the university, such as the Blue Box Theater, Alumni Park Plaza, University Health Pharmacy and the Kentucky Clinic Pharmacy, are opening to administer these vaccinations.

 

Many students said they have previously received their first or second COVID-19 vaccination doses on campus. 

Students also said that having access to vaccination resources on campus is beneficial because of location proximity and university-specific resources.

UK sophomore Ryan Kilian said he has received both doses of his COVID vaccine and a booster at UK.

“I got the booster the very first day that I was eligible,” Kilian said. “I volunteered there as a non-medical volunteer helping with logistics, so I was able to get my COVID-19 doses early on.”

Despite UK's high vaccination rate and the prevalence of locations where students and faculty can get vaccinated, UK HealthCare faculty members are still concerned about the abundance of colleagues who are reluctant to receive the vaccines. UK is attempting to persuade those still reluctant to receive the vaccine with incentive programs for both students and employees. 

However, there is currently no mandate for any of the UK community to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

UK HealthCare Business Intelligence Manager Les Sidebottom spoke on his thoughts about the percentage of his coworkers who are vaccinated — a total of 92.4%. 

“I feel that the COVID vaccine is one of the key elements in ensuring our health care systems are not stretched beyond their capacity and commend everyone who has gotten their vaccination, either voluntarily or as a result of a mandate,” Sidebottom said. “I am a bit surprised that nearly 8% of our staff and faculty remain unvaccinated.” 

Other UK HealthCare employees, like UK HealthCare Architecture and Information Security employee Kirk Gaetz, see the high vaccination rate as a positive, but they worry that those who remain unvaccinated are seeking misleading information. 

“On one hand I’m surprised it’s that high — but I suppose that’s what comes from taking a relatively hardline stance on requiring the vaccine,” Gaetz said. “On the other hand, I wonder how many of those remaining 8 percent are attributable to consumption of verifiably incorrect information.”

Though flu vaccinations are not required, Capilouto is encouraging them. Most of the on-campus locations that administer COVID-19 vaccinations administer the flu vaccination as well. In an email to campus on Monday, Capilouto said, “There are predictions that we are facing a return to a more normal — and harsher — flu season this fall and winter, so getting a shot is particularly important this year.”

Gaetz said this is enough motivation for him.

“I can’t remember how many flu shots I’ve had over the last fifteen years, but I do remember the last time I had the actual flu,” Gaetz said. “I’ll avoid that any way I can.”

Many locations around the Lexington area are administering free flu vaccines, including CVS, Walgreens, Lexington Clinic and The Little Clinic at Kroger.

The threshold of 90 percent vaccinated that Capilouto set is fast approaching as a sign of a hopeful return to normalcy on campus. 

In his campus-wide email, Capilouto said he hopes UK can reach this goal “by staying committed to each other and to our community."