Move vaccines back to Gregory Gym

Mihir Gupta, Columnist

With more than 50,000 students poised to return to campus in the fall of 2021 from all around the state of Texas, nation and the world, the COVID-19 virus has the potential to spread its variants among the UT community. 

In Spring 2021, UT Health Austin was designated as a vaccine hub and began to administer vaccines at Gregory Gym. However, as demand slowed, vaccine distribution shifted to the Health Transformation Building, which is located much further from most on and off campus residences.

While the number of vaccinated individuals is growing, there are still public health concerns over newer and more infectious variants of COVID-19. UT must make these vaccinations more accessible to UT’s student population and move vaccine operations back to Gregory Gym. Doing so can allow UT’s population to achieve herd immunity and protect itself against an outbreak in the fall.

If vaccinations remain at the Health Transformation Building, many students will have to walk long distances or spend money on transportation to get their vaccine.

Public health sophomore Arvind Subramanian explained why holding vaccinations at Gregory Gym was convenient for students. 

“It was a great location because the transport time for a majority of people living in dorms is really short,” said Subramanian.

Additionally, Gregory Gym is located at the center of campus, next to prominent buildings like the McCombs School of Business, Perry-Castaneda Library, Jester Residence Halls and Student Activity Center. Its convenient location means that many students can easily reach their vaccination appointment in a five to ten minute walk without having to go out of their way.

“The convenience of (vaccinations) being on campus was the best part of it,” Subramanian said, recalling his experiences volunteering for Gregory Gym’s vaccine distribution during the spring of 2021.

While students who were in Austin during the spring 2021 semester had the opportunity to get vaccinated, students who have been away from Austin should have the same convenient access to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

With classes returning to in-person instruction during the fall, the University expects staff, students and faculty to return to campus. Students will be driving and flying to Austin from every corner of the globe. 

Dr. Amy Young, chief clinical officer and vice dean of professional practice at UT Health Austin, confirmed that fall vaccination distribution will involve smaller sites on campus instead of returning to Gregory Gym.

“I don’t think it will be at (Gregory) Gym, and the reason is because the demand won’t ever be as great,” said Young. 

Though UT plans to continue to distribute vaccines on campus, the UT community would benefit more from having one central and accessible location so that students in the fall can easily find their vaccination appointments instead of having to navigate around campus, which can be especially difficult for incoming first-year students.

If UT really wants to return to normal, make vaccines more accessible to students, and move them back to Gregory Gym.

Gupta is a Plan II honors, biology, and chemistry sophomore from Plano, Texas.