UW-Madison students in direct contact with COVID-19 patients have started receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on campus as University Health Services (UHS) offers doses to eligible students and faculty.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services approved UHS as a COVID-19 vaccinator on December 30, 2020. On January 5, 2021, they began administering the vaccine to Phase 1a eligible individuals on campus, which includes those who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients, the virus itself or virus specimens.
Since then, eligible UW-Madison students and employees have started receiving the vaccine. According to the Public Health Madison Dane County Coronavirus Dashboard, 52,080 doses of the vaccine have been distributed in Dane County as of Jan. 27.
Ryann McKinnell, a UW-Madison senior and Certified Nursing Assistant at Meriter Hospital in the Intermediate Care and Oncology Unit, has already received both doses of the vaccine.
She described the process as very simple, a process that started with an email asking if employees were interested.
“They worked their way down from highest amount of exposure to lowest to distribute the vaccine,” said McKinnell. “Then, when we were chosen to get the vaccine, we had to do an education module on the vaccine and then sign up for a time slot to get the vaccine.”
McKinnell was vaccinated two days after she was initially approved to get the vaccine, and had to wait about 15 minutes after getting the shot to make sure that she did not have a reaction to it.
While some of her coworkers reported “no side effects” to only having “fevers and body aches,” McKinnell also highlighted some of her negative reactions to the vaccine.
“My first vaccine I had a slight arm soreness and fatigue. I slept for 16 hours, it was insane. The second vaccine, I had even worse arm soreness, a headache and fatigue for two days,” said McKinnell. “But the bulk of the symptoms seemed to come within 24-36 hours after the vaccine and last for a day or two.”
McKinnell indicated that everyone getting vaccinated was advised to get the vaccines on days where they did not have to work for the following two to three days.
Sam Epstein, a UW-Madison senior, has received the first shot of the vaccine.
Epstein had a different route to vaccination, as he was given a vaccine after there were extras at UHS because eligible people did not show up to their appointments that day.
“I heard they were giving out vaccines from a friend who was in UHS and was approached by workers about extra and available vaccines which were going to be thrown out by the end of the day,” said Epstein.
Epstein explained his experience with the vaccine, which was very similar to that of McKinnell’s.
“The experience was efficient and extremely easy. Workers at UHS simply needed you to fill out an online consent form and prior health evaluation. Within 2 minutes later, you had a shot in your arm which was totally painless and you're on your way home,” explained Epstein.
Epstein has only received the first shot of the vaccine, but is scheduled to receive his second dose of the vaccine on Friday, Feb. 5. He indicated that he experienced almost no side effects, only some mild arm pain the day after.
UHS recommends that students follow their wisc.edu email accounts and news.wisc.edu to stay up to date with campus vaccination information. The next phase of vaccine eligibility will include those who work in education and childcare, people enrolled in long-term Medicaid care programs, public facing essential workers, non-frontline essential healthcare workers and individuals who live and work in congregate living facilities.