USF expands COVID-19 vaccination to student body

Students can visit the second-floor lounge of Argos Hall from Tuesday to Thursday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

USF is set to receive thousands of doses from the county to vaccinate its students starting Tuesday as it opens a new on-campus site and makes the vaccine hunt easier for those searching for available doses and open appointments. 

The university will receive approximately 2,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, according to university spokesperson Adam Freeman. The on-campus vaccination effort led by USF is in partnership with the Hillsborough County Department of Health, which is the main provider of the vaccines. 

The supply, according to Freeman, will vary each week. The vaccines will be administered Tuesday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on the second-floor lounge of Argos Hall. 

Students interested in receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must fill out a survey so the university can assess the need and demand. Once a response is submitted, students will be contacted to schedule their appointment.

Approximately 1,800 students completed the survey as of April 14, of which 1,300 showed interest in getting vaccinated, 400 already got vaccinated and 100 students do not plan on getting the vaccine at this time, according to Freeman.

With a limited supply, the university continues to encourage students, faculty and staff to seek the vaccine across the community.

“We expect many students, faculty and staff will utilize vaccine distribution sites in their local communities that have a much larger supply and we continue to encourage them to find it from those other sources and not wait on the university to receive more doses,” Freeman said.

Besides the vaccine site at Argos Hall, USF Health and the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital have also been administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the community. USF Health began administering the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to eligible individuals Jan. 7 after receiving the green light from the county.

The veterans’ hospital opened a vaccination site at the Yuengling Center on March 20, and since then, it has been administering an average of 8,000 doses each week, according to James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Chief of Communications and Media Service Kimberly Antos.

Antos said the site is open to all individuals ages 16 and older. Appointments can be made through the hospital’s Eventbrite page, in which individuals must select the available time and date as well as provide their general information.

On the day of the appointment, individuals must bring their registration confirmation, a completed consent form as well as a form of identification, including their driver’s license or a government-issued ID. The consent form can be found on the event’s web page.

Antos said appointments are encouraged, however, individuals without an appointment can also get vaccinated. The site is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

While the site has been focusing on vaccinating all veterans, active duty individuals, reservists, national guard members, first responders as well as family members of veterans, the site has also been “occasionally” vaccinating non-veteran USF students, faculty and staff, according to Freeman.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine consists of two doses. After receiving the first dose, individuals will receive a time and date to return to the site three weeks later for their second dose.