Jan. 2 Message to Campus: CWRU and COVID-19 Vaccines

To Our Faculty, Staff and Students:

We write today to update you regarding the university’s efforts to secure access to COVID-19 vaccinations for members of the campus community.

While we have been aggressively pursuing multiple approaches to gain information about existing and anticipated opportunities, broader challenges involving supplies and distribution mean that this process is unlikely to be as quick or predictable as many of us would like. 

Given these complex circumstances, what we can assure you today is that we will: 

  • provide regular updates on what we know and what remains uncertain;
  • secure as many doses as quickly as we can; and
  • acknowledge that doing so may require imperfections in our process—for example, we may have to provide potential recipients short notice, and/or restrict recipients only to groups that government officials allow.

In a context where information will continue to change rapidly, we believe this approach represents the best path to realizing our highest priority: maintaining the health and safety of the campus community.

Where CWRU is Now 

Earlier last year, Case Western Reserve completed an application to become a distribution site for vaccinations. Only Ohio hospitals and public health entities are receiving doses at this time, but we are hopeful that when greater supplies are available, we will be approved to receive and administer vaccinations. 

For now, we are working to identify opportunities for members of our community in the state’s first priority for vaccinations—specifically, those involved in the care of COVID-19 patients. 

In some instances, such individuals have or will receive doses from our partner hospitals or other health care organizations; for others, we are working closely with city and county health officials to determine potential solutions.

Where Ohio is Now

As of this writing, 1.02 percent of Ohioans have received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Like many others, our state received fewer doses than anticipated this month; Gov. Mike DeWine has urged hospitals to accelerate their pace and noted that the state expects another 238,000 vaccine doses in the coming week.

What Comes Next

The possibility exists that some university staff involved in COVID-19 care for members of our community may be able to be vaccinated early this month through the assistance of public health officials. 

Other members of the campus community who will provide direct care in local hospitals or clinics, but not receive vaccines there, may receive doses through our advocacy later in January. 

Beyond these two groups, much remains uncertain. The state’s next priority for vaccinations are those 65 and older and those working in K-12 settings, but the launch of that phase likely depends on progress on the first one.

What Else You Should Know 

As most of you are aware, federal officials have authorized distribution for two vaccines, one from Pfizer and the other from Moderna. Each requires two doses. For Pfizer, the second one is administered after 21 days, while for Moderna, the wait is 28 days. Because of the severe limitation of vaccine supply, people will not have a choice between the vaccines at this time. 

Depending on federal reviews, two other vaccines are expected to become available in the U.S. in 2021. One is from Johnson & Johnson, while the other is from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.

Finally, we have created a frequently asked questions page about COVID-19 vaccinations. We will continue to update it as new information becomes available.

We thank you for your patience during these difficult times, and wish all of you a healthy and wonderful new year.

Scott Cowen
Interim President

Ben Vinson III
Executive Vice President and Provost