Southern Methodist faculty patiently await the distribution of the Covid- 19 vaccine on SMU campus after teaching during a pandemic for almost a full school year.
Last summer, the administration promised faculty and staff that it would be available early this year, but now awaits the state’s release of the vaccine to college campuses.
“It has been disappointing that the state has not provided SMU with any doses despite the university’s extensive preparations to distribute the vaccine,” Jake Batsell, SMU journalism professor said.
In mid-December, there was a proposal from some Texan Universities which included SMU to have the state of Texas consider college professors to be essential workers, according to Aurielle Thiele, SMU Faculty Senate President.
SMU is continuing to push for allotments of the Covid-19 vaccine and have a system in place for when they do receive the vaccine, like the tent near the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center.
“We continue to submit weekly requests for vaccine allocations under the state’s distribution phases, but have not yet received confirmation of when we might receive our first allotment,” Elizabeth Loboa, SMU provost said.
Loboa has kept the SMU faculty informed about the vaccine availability through weekly newsletters and the Emergency Operations Committee has promptly answered any questions that the faculty has had, according to Thiele.
Faculty members are left uncertain when they will have access to the vaccine even when it arrives to the SMU campus.
“Faculty members who are not at high risk of complications, and thus are teaching in person, like me, are coming to the realization that we may not be fully vaccinated (if we are vaccinated at all) before the end of the spring semester, while more contagious variants of COVID-19 are spreading around the DFW metroplex,” Thiele said.
SMU has not made vaccines mandatory for their faculty even if they are eligible to receive the vaccine currently.
“I’m not sure I would support mandatory vaccination for the professors, but for the sake of our public and personal health, I do think we should voluntarily seek to be vaccinated as soon as it’s our turn,” Batsell said.
While SMU waits for the arrival of the vaccine to the campus, Dallas County is receiving 6,000-9,000 doses a week with 300,000 people currently registered to receive the vaccine, according to the Dallas Health Department.
Phase 1A and 1B are currently eligible to receive the vaccine in Dallas county, said the Dallas health department. This does not included university professors that do not fit into the criteria.
Dallas County is trying to transition into drive through vaccination sites to increase the number of vaccines they can distribute daily, according to Dr. Philp Huang, Health and Human Services Director.