UT students receive COVID-19 vaccine due to winter storms

Kevin Vu

Over 60 students and staff members who were not in the 1A or 1B group received a dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine Sunday to prevent them from being wasted, University Spokesperson J.B. Bird said.

On Sunday, President Jay Hartzell announced that campus would close through at least Wednesday morning due to the winter weather, which has since been extended to Thursday at 8 a.m. The closure also resulted in vaccination sites shutting down Monday and Tuesday, leaving doses of the vaccine unused, as first reported by KXAN.

“It turns out with (the Pfizer) vaccine, once it’s taken out of a deep freeze, it only lasts in the refrigerator for, I want to say, 120 hours,” said Amy Young, vice dean of professional practice at Dell Medical School. “So we realized that 120 hours was going to come at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.”

As a result, UT officials made the decision to offer the extra vaccines to students and staff members living in the Jester West dormitory because they were closest to Gregory Gym, Bird said.

“The first goal is always to get (the vaccine) to 1A and 1B people, but with the weather, we knew that was going to be pretty close to impossible,” Bird said. “It was a very gratuitous, quick decision to avoid having to waste the vaccine.”

Young said she worked with two other clinicians to get the vaccine reconstituted and given out to the 67 students and staff over an hour and a half Sunday afternoon. 

“I felt good that we had not wasted the vaccine,” Young said. "I felt very proud of the behavior of the students in that setting. They were obviously very pleased to get the vaccine, they were all extraordinarily polite, (and) they were really appreciative.”

Young said appointments for those getting the second dose of the vaccine will be pushed to Friday. But appointments for those receiving the first dose are undetermined due to the round of vaccines being shipped in, she said.

“They were supposed to be shipped on Monday, (and) I was going to pick it up on Monday morning … So far today we don’t know when it’s coming,” Young said. 

The vaccines have not arrived as of Tuesday afternoon.