ACE Member Campuses Help Roll Out the COVID-19 Vaccine
February 02, 2021

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ACE members have been hard at work since last spring helping their communities confront the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, following the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in December, institutions across the country have started offering their campus facilities and resources to assist with vaccine distribution and other vital pandemic-related needs.

“Colleges and universities are critical institutions in both urban and rural communities across the country and are committed to serving the broader common good. Many of these institutions have the knowledge, expertise, and infrastructure to support the national COVID-19 response strategy, help rebuild our economy, and ensure the health and educational well-being of our most vulnerable populations,” ACE President Ted Mitchell wrote in a letter to President Biden last week on the ways colleges and universities are stepping up to fight the pandemic.

In many communities, campus facilities often are the biggest buildings in the area, able to host and help manage the large number of people seeking vaccines and the health workers taking care of them.

Since mid-January, Shenandoah University’s (SU) James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics and Events Center has served as a COVID-19 mass-vaccination site in coordination with local chapters of the Virginia Department of Health. The 77,000-square-foot indoor athletic facility is the largest space within 70 miles of Winchester, Virginia. It also acts as the location for the school’s saliva-based surveillance testing program.

“Our faculty, staff and health professions students are honored to be a part of the response to this community health crisis through our longstanding partnership with Valley Health and the Lord Fairfax Health District,” said Shenandoah University president, Tracy Fitzsimmons. “We all have a role in advancing the health of our most vulnerable community members, our neighbors, and our families and we are proud to serve the community in this essential role.”

As SU began their vaccine rollout, they interviewed community members who were among the first to receive the vaccine.

“The whole experience was very moving for me. I’m touched Shenandoah has again come to our help,” said Sandra Wavrek.

The State University of New York (SUNY) also opened up multiple vaccination sites across New York state. Binghamton University, University at Buffalo, and the SUNY Polytechnic Institute campus in Utica are available for eligible New Yorkers to get their vaccine.

In addition to these locations, SUNY’s three hospitals have used 100 percent of their allotment to vaccinate health care personnel.

East Carolina University’s (ECU) pandemic response​ includes using mobile transportation units to deliver vaccines, along with patient treatment and education services, to rural and underserved populations across eastern North Carolina. The units have already delivered the first doses and will be out regularly when vaccine supplies increase. ECU’s medical school ranks in the top 10 percent of U.S. medical schools for graduating physicians who practice in the state, practice primary care and practice in underserved areas.​

Some of the institutions participating in vaccine distribution began their involvement last year, working on vaccine research and holding clinical trials.

“We conducted successful clinical trials for the three (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson) vaccine candidates with an emphasis on underrepresented populations in Chicago. We have already accomplished about 15 percent of the vaccinations (roughly 20,000) in the city of Chicago and have an operational process that will be expanding from 10 to 40 stations in the next couple of weeks, capable of 10,000 a day,” Timothy L. Killeen, president of the University of Illinois System, wrote in an email.

Soka University, located in Orange County, California, one of the states most impacted by COVID-19, has signed a contract with local officials to administer the vaccine. The university plans to give 1,000 shots per day initially, but hopes to provide as many as 5,000 doses each day to local residents.

At Tulane University, a private research institution, administrators opened the J. Bennett Johnston Building in downtown New Orleans for distribution. The university focuses on streamlining the allocation process through email. Recipients receive a link containing a portal for registration, as well as additional information for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Given the limited shelf life of the vaccines, Tulane coordinates a running waitlist in the event that someone misses a scheduled appointment. People who qualify for this waitlist include students and staff who work with infected university members, frontline food service and custodial staff, and employees over 70 years old.

Beyond its campus facilities, Tulane employs its fourth- and first-year medical students during various stages of its distribution process.

“Our students, our med students specifically, have been tremendous…we have fourth-year students that are actually assisting with the administration itself, and we have [first-year] students who are volunteering in the observation areas…It is truly a win-win situation,” said Joey Esneault, executive director of Tulane University Medical Group.

Beyond students and local health department officials, Anne Arundel Community College worked with Maryland’s National Guard to expedite the vaccine inoculation process. On one day, they were able to help administer 700 shots by 5:30 p.m. with 170 more appointments scheduled for the remainder of the night.

Many colleges and universities are deeply involved in the vaccine process, or have made clear their willingness to help—this is a long-tail process, and support will be needed throughout 2021. We will be updating the list below as institutions let us know ​how they are participating. 

Photo ​courtesy of Ardy Wunder, Shenandoah University

​​What Other ACE Member Institutions Are Doing

 Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University will begin hosting Hartford Hospital’s mass vaccination clinic​ on March 8. Sacred Heart nursing studen​ts were among the first in the state to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to health-care workers on the front lines at Danbury Hospital in December. (Feb. 18, 2021)

 Yale University

​Yale opened the Lanman Center vaccine clinic in Payne Whitney Gymnasium in December to begin vaccinating eligible empl​oyees. Beginning in January, Yale began collaborating ​with Yale New Haven Health System to operate clinics for residents in the New Haven area and beyond. (Feb. 8, 2021)

 California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

​A mass COVID-19 vaccination site opened Feb. 5 at Cal Poly Pomona. The site will have the capacity to vaccinate up to 10,000 people a day and serve residents who live and work the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. (Feb. 8, 2021)

 California State University, San Marcos

The County of San Diego opened the region's third Vaccination Super Station in San Marcos at the Cal State San Marcos Sports Center. The site is expected to vaccinate 250 to 1,000 people per day and then build up to 5,000 vaccines daily, depending on the number of vaccines available. (Feb. 2, 2021)

 California State University, Los Angeles

The federal government is partnering with the state of California to launch two new community vaccination centers, in East Oakland at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and on Cal State LA’s campus. The new centers will be operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of California through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and are expected to open to eligible members of the public beginning Feb. 16. (Feb. 8, 2021)

 Seattle University

Seattle University is partnering with Swedish Health Services to host the Swedish Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. The setup process, from imagination to first vaccinations, occurred in just over a week. (Feb. 8, 2021)

 San Diego State University

​SDSU has received approval from the state of California to administer COVID-19 vaccines to the campus community, with the first 300 Moderna vaccine doses arriving the first week in February. Nursing students at SDSU are supporting ongoing efforts in the county to administer vaccines. More than 200 students fro​m the university's program have completed training on how to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. More information​ here(Feb. 8, 2021)

 Triton College

Triton College, a community college in west suburban River Grove, is serving as one of Cook County (Illinois) Health’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution sites. (Feb. 3, 2021)

 Oregon State University

Oregon State is using Reser Stadium as a vaccination clinic. By the end of January, 2,050 people had been vaccinated, including 800 K-12 staff.​ (Feb. 3, 2021)

 Missouri State University

Missouri State University in Springfield is working with the local public health department to provide vaccinations and local hospital system. With the first shipment of vaccine in January, they vaccinated high-risk personnel. In future shipments, they will begin a mass vaccination clinic at one of their arenas for local public school system high-risk personnel. As they get additional vaccine doses they will continue to expand the clinic.​ (Jan. 22, 2021)

 Bates College

Bates College is hosting vaccination clinics on campus for first responders in Androscoggin County, Maine. Bates also has worked cl​osely​ with both hospitals in Lewiston, where its campus is located, to provide ultra cold freezers for vaccine storage. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

CCCU has two campuses already approved to be vaccination sites (one in Michigan and one in Southern California) and half a dozen more in conversations with public health officials about how best they can serve their communities during this public health crisis. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​The City University of New York

CUNY has identified and offered the State of New York 19 campus facilities located across the five boroughs of New York City that can serve as potential state-run vaccination sites. At the state’s request, CUNY has reserved these spaces and will commence preparations once specific sites are selected based on the State’s needs. More than 5,500 trained and licensed CUNY students have volunteered to potentially administer the vaccines at state-run vaccination facilities. CUNY is collaborating with NYS Department of Health’s Vaccine Operations State Employee Staffing Support initiative by engaging university staff to serve as volunteers to provide administrative, clinical, and emergency response support at vaccinations sites and call centers. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​California State University, Northridge

CSUN is serving as one of five recently announced large-scale sites in Los Angeles County to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to eligible L.A. County residents. The targeted distribution is 4,000 vaccines daily, helping the community access the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​Davenport University

Davenport is currently exploring partnerships with its local healthcare partners to offer vaccination opportunities on its campus. Its College of Health Professions students are also actively assisting county health agencies across Michigan in providing volunteers to assist in the vaccination processes at their administration sites. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​James Madison University

James Madison University, among many other agencies, has partnered with VDH’s Central Shenandoah Health District to serve as a partner in hosting the vaccine clinics. The university will continue to play an active role in offering assistance within the community as these efforts continue. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​Virginia Commonwealth University

The VCU Health System is starting to offer the vaccine to members of the community who meet the state's current Phase 1b requirements, ages 65 or older and front-line essential workers. The VCU Health System and the university are working with local health districts to host or support upcoming community vaccination events.  (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​The University of Texas System

All six UT health institutions and the additional medical schools at UT Austin and UT Rio Grande Valley were provided vaccines in the first weeks of the initiative to initiate large scale immunization of their healthcare workers caring for COVID patients. Five UT health-related institutions plus the above medical schools are now serving their communities as COVID Hub distribution centers providing mass vaccination to their own patients and others in the community at high risk. And although MD Anderson Cancer Center is not technically a Hub, it is focused on providing large scale immunizations to patients. UT El Paso and UT San Antonio are partnering with their communities to provide vaccines to their high-risk employees, students, and community members. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​Fort Lewis College

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has identified Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO as a potential partner for vaccinating individuals in phases 2 and/or 3 of Colorado’s vaccine prioritization. Fort Lewis is currently in discussions with La Plata County’s Vaccination Point of Distribution to move their operations on campus in mid-April. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​Villanova University

Villanova has been designated as a distribution site but is still waiting on how and when that will occur. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​University of California, Irvine

UC-Irvine has administered more than 10,000 doses to front-line health care workers since mid-December; established on-campus vaccination site at the Bren Events Center in early January; provided vaccines to those 65 years and older over two weekends in January; and provided vaccines to front-line housing, dining, and janitorial staff. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​California Community Colleges

In California, 44 community colleges have volunteered to partner with county public health officials to operate community vaccination sites on their campuses, and about a dozen operations are already under way in college gyms and parking lots. One college, Santa Barbara City College, has been operating its vaccination clinic since Jan. 5. Several colleges are also hosting vaccination clinics operated by third-party health care providers in their communities. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​Framingham State University

Framingham State has offered to be a vaccination site. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​Southern New Hampshire University

SNHU has converted its athletic complex into a surge site for hospitalizations and a drive-through vaccination site set up with the New Hampshire National Guard using both indoor and outdoor facilities. (Jan. 31, 2021)

 ​Robert Morris University

RMU nursing students will be administering shots in support of the Allegheny County Department of Health vaccination efforts; awaiting approval from the  Pennsylvania Department of Health to serve as a vaccine distribution point. (Jan. 31, 2021)

What's Happening on Your Campus?​

Is your institution working to help the local community during the pandemic? 

tell us your story​

How Colleges and Universities ​​Can Help With the Federal COVID-19 Pandemic Response 

In this letter to President Joe Biden, ACE and 38 other higher education groups outline some tangible ways that colleges and universities with sufficient capacity and resources could volunteer to contribute to this critical national endeavor.