Last week, nearly two-thirds of our faculty and staff and more than half of our students filled out the survey we sent to assess interest in being vaccinated against COVID-19. The vast majority of the respondents—77 percent—indicated that they want to receive the vaccine from the University Health Center, while another 6 percent reported that they have already been vaccinated or plan to be vaccinated elsewhere. This strong interest in receiving the vaccine is very encouraging.

To date, we have been able to administer first doses of the vaccine to more than 1,500 members of our campus community, in keeping with the phased approach established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH). With every person we vaccinate, our community becomes stronger.

However, it is important to understand that we cannot move ahead of state and federal guidelines for vaccine administration. We must stay in sync with the established phases and move when authorized. So far, we have received only small shipments of the vaccine, and we expect that low volume will continue—at least for the next several weeks.

When we are authorized to move to the next group of recipients, we will be prepared to do so. The surveys completed last week are helping to inform the decision-making of the Medical Oversight Task Force: age, the existence of comorbidities, and level of exposure in job functions are factors that are being taken into consideration. Each week, based on the projected number of vaccines available for the following week, a random weighted sample of individuals in the identified groups will be issued invitations for vaccination. This process will continue in accordance with the volume of vaccine received. Remember, too, that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second dose to be completed, which also must be considered in the schedule that we are developing.

You will be contacted by the University Health Center when it is your turn to be vaccinated. Vaccines will only be given by appointment, and we are being very careful to ensure that no vaccine is wasted. Per UGA Human Resources, you will not need to take leave for your vaccine appointments.

Moving forward, we ask for your continued patience and understanding as we work to administer the vaccine in an orderly and efficient manner in adherence with the phased structure that is prescribed. We will continue to follow CDC and GDPH guidelines for administration until everyone who wants a vaccine gets a vaccine. You will be notified as additional information becomes available.

In the meantime, we remind you that it is critical that each member of our community continues to observe all the protections that have served us well to date. We urge you to remain diligent in washing your hands, wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding crowds, even if you have already received the vaccine. 

We also strongly encourage you to take advantage of our continuing surveillance testing that is being offered at Legion Field and in pop-up locations across campus. Testing at Legion Field can be scheduled at Walk-up appointments can usually be accommodated at Legion Field, and pop-up saliva testing does not require pre-registration. For planning purposes, precise sites and schedules for the pop-up clinics are published on the UHC’s website and its social media as they are secured.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to keep our community Georgia Strong/Dawg Strong.