The University announced last month that the deadline for submitting proof of flu vaccination would be extended to Dec. 3. Prior to the extension, affiliates had until Nov. 19 to upload proof of their vaccination to the Hopkins Vaccine Management System (VMS). This is the second year the University has mandated flu vaccinations. This year, nationwide nursing shortages have made flu vaccinations more difficult to obtain around the country.
University leaders explained in the initial announcement that the deadline was extended to give affiliates more time to schedule vaccination appointments. In an email to The News-Letter, Jill Rosen, director of media relations, discussed reports from Hopkins students and staff that obtaining a flu vaccination appointment was especially challenging this semester.
“There is a nationwide pharmacist and nursing shortage, and the demand for COVID-19 boosters and pediatric doses is creating even more strain on the system,” Rosen wrote. “This caused many pharmacies to discontinue walk-ins and to require appointments, making it harder for some students to get vaccination appointments.”
Due to such shortages, some students, like junior Joshua Devier, opted not to receive their vaccines through the University. In an interview with The News-Letter, Devier described the process for receiving a vaccination outside of the University.
“I got the flu vaccine earlier at CVS, the one on St. Paul Street right next to campus,” Devier said. “It was pretty simple to get in terms of registration. I walked up to the consultation desk for a flu shot, which they cover if you have insurance.”
Rosen noted that the University offered 17 clinics on the Homewood and Peabody campuses and administered over 17,000 doses across those sites. Following the deadline extension, the University added clinics at both campuses. According to Rosen, on-campus clinics were too busy to accommodate vaccinations for all affiliates, so the University decided to extend the deadline beyond Thanksgiving break to allow students to potentially get vaccinated at home.
Freshman Galilee Best told The News-Letter about her experience registering and receiving the flu vaccine.
“I registered through myChart but there were no slots and then after checking again 30 mins later, I was able to reserve a slot,” Best wrote. “I feel that the policies are reasonable, but I feel as though there were not many testing sites or opportunities on the Homewood Campus.”
In an email to The News-Letter, Vice Provost for Student Health & Well-Being and Interim Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger clarified that proof of vaccination is automatically loaded into VMS when students swipe their Jcards at on-campus vaccination sites, not at the moment they receive the vaccine.
Shollenberger highlighted that if students do not swipe their ID card, they are required to manually upload documentation to the vaccination portal.
Devier recalled that, because he was not vaccinated at a University-run clinic, he had to log his vaccine in VMS himself.
“I have not had any issues with their flu vaccine policies. I think they did a decent job of giving forewarning,” he said.
Shollenberger clarified that University appointments involved a partnership with Walgreens and Walmart in an email to The News-Letter.
“The onsite clinics were organized by [Occupational Health Services (OHS)] and [The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC)] and the vaccines were supplied and administered by Walgreens and Walmart,” he wrote. “The SHWC ordered additional vaccines to increase the ability for walk-ins since the pharmacies were unable to increase supply do to their staffing and supply constraints.”
Sophomore David Lu registered for an appointment through MyChart and received his flu vaccine at the Freshman Annex on Nov. 29. He shared why he received the vaccine later than the original deadline.
“I didn’t actually know that I could go on MyChart to schedule a flu vaccine until very late,” Lu said. “It seemed like everybody else also forgot to schedule their vaccine appointments, so there were a lot of people waiting in line. But they seemed to be very efficient, so I didn’t have to wait too long.”