The office of UNO Health Security partnered with the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) to provide vaccination clinics during the first week of classes, with more vaccination clinics starting this week.
Vaccinations were made available to students as well the general public. To coincide with Durango Days events, two clinics were held at the Pep Bowl from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. last Tuesday and Wednesday. Clinics were also held at move-in events before classes started.
At last week’s clinics, temperatures topped well over 90 degrees, with heat indices over 100. Anne Monaghan, a nurse from the Visiting Nurses Association, said they were happy to beat the heat to get shots in arms.
A majority of vaccines were administered to older community members rather than students last week, Monaghan said, but she didn’t ask why someone would’ve waited until now to get vaccinated.
“If they’re here, that’s the important thing,” Monaghan said.
Interim Executive Director for the Office of Health Security Jane Meza said over 100 vaccines were administered throughout the week. She said the DCHD loves doing clinics on campus, so they discussed setting up weekly clinics.
UNO Health Security announced that the DCHD will host vaccination clinics every Wednesday in September. Like previous clinics, vaccines are available to anybody who’s eligible, student or not.
The rise of the Delta variant has quickly changed the university’s response. On the second day of classes, both UNO and UNL announced indoor mask mandates. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department also introduced a mask mandate, but Douglas County failed to receive state approval for one.
Meza said UNO doesn’t have any specific benchmarks in mind to meet in order to lift the mask mandate, but that they will make decisions as information becomes available. She said they follow CDC guidelines closely.
The university has not implemented a vaccine mandate like Creighton University, which reported that 95% of its student population is fully vaccinated, or any incentives for getting the shot like UNL has done with its voluntary vaccination registry.
Meza said the advantages of being vaccinated should be enough of an incentive. She said fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to catch the virus, and a much lower chance of having severe symptoms or being hospitalized.
According to the Douglas County COVID-19 dashboard, over 54% of county residents are fully vaccinated. UNO doesn’t have exact data, but Meza said they estimated the student vaccination rate to be consistent with the rest of the community. For those aged 16-34, the county vaccination rate is about 55%.
“As long as it’s being transmitted, variants can happen,” Meza said. “Vaccines and masks are the best chance we have to fight COVID.”
September’s weekly vaccination clinics will be held 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays near UNO’s Criss Library. They will offer both first or second doses and will be open to anybody over the age of 16. No registration is required, but individuals under the age of 19 will need consent from a parent or guardian. More information on vaccines can be found on the DCHD website.