As the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine is greenlighted again by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Binghamton University has no plans on continuing the on-campus vaccination program.
The University decided not to resume administering the J&J vaccine due to the result of a campus-wide survey regarding student vaccinations sent via email to students. According to Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU, based on over 7,000 responses, the survey reported more than 80 percent of students are vaccinated or in the process of being vaccinated.
Yarosh said it is not necessary to provide on-campus vaccines given the result of the survey and the additional transportation the University provides for off-campus vaccination sites, like the New York state vaccination site at 10 Gannett Drive.
“There is also open availability for vaccination slots and plenty of supply of vaccines locally,” Yarosh wrote in an email. “Given all the above, we believe that there is ample opportunity for students to get vaccinated without undertaking the additional effort necessary to re-establish a vaccination site on campus at this time.”
This quick turnaround comes after the University announced a J&J on-campus vaccination site in the Mandela Room of the University Union beginning the week of April 5. There were no vaccinations after that week due to a supply shortage. On April 13, the J&J vaccine was placed on pause by the FDA due to reports of rare lethal blood clots. In order to accommodate students, the University started to provide shuttles to off-campus vaccination sites.
Christopher Schneider, a sophomore majoring in accounting, believes the vaccines on campus make it easier for students to get them and will speed up the vaccine process overall.
“Increasing the accessibility to get vaccinated will certainly allow us to get back to normal as soon as possible, whether that be increased transportation or more availability on campus,” Schneider said. “On-campus vaccinations would definitely lift some of the burdens of going out and getting a vaccine off campus.”
Ross Mesnick, Student Association (SA) speaker of Congress and a junior majoring in business administration, wishes on-campus vaccinations continued. Mesnick said he understands the possible doubts by the University due to supply shortages and the public opinion of the J&J vaccine following its pull from the market.
“I applaud the University’s efforts to continue providing transportation to the state-run vaccination site in Johnson City,” Mesnick wrote in an email. “I believe this is important as it allows students to secure transportation to and from the vaccination site, thereby making the vaccine accessible to all students who want to get it. Prior to the shuttle to the vaccine site, I’d heard complaints from students, especially those without cars, about the difficulty of getting to the Johnson City site. So, it was really inspiring to see that [BU] lifted this barrier, making it possible for all students to get the vaccine.”
According to Yarosh, faculty will not be required to get vaccinated before returning to campus in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). While the decision will be made by SUNY administration, BU has expressed interest in supporting full student vaccinations, including a possible mandate.
Schneider supports this cause, stating that the COVID-19 vaccine should be enforced like other vaccines students are required to have before arriving in BU.
“I understand that students are required to get some mandatory vaccines before entering as a student, so this does not surprise me,” Schneider said. “Despite its inconvenience, I know that it is put in place to ensure the health of [BU] students.”