Wayne State hospital students, faculty get COVID-19 vaccines

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Vaccine distribution continues to slowly trickle down the ranks as Wayne State University's students and faculty in front-line health professions got their turn Thursday to begin getting inoculating against COVID-19. 

Wayne State began administering the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to faculty and students who are in active clinical practice and rotations with patients.

"We were able to invite individuals to let us know if they were interested in receiving the vaccine. Those that were interested in receiving the vaccine received an invitation to continue to the process," said Toni Grant, chief nursing officer at Wayne State's Campus Health Center.

Dr. Toni Grant, right, Wayne State University, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Alex Yang, WSU 3rd-year medical student, at the Campus Health Center on January 7, 2020.

Students and faculty members steadily streamed in and out of the Campus Health Center on Anthony Wayne Drive during the first morning of vaccinations. 

Approximately 2,000 people were identified by Wayne State as having first priority to the vaccine due to constant exposure working in hospitals. 

Wayne State is able to administer the vaccine in phases under a memorandum of understanding with the Detroit Health Department. 

"Wayne State is not mandating that anyone received the vaccine, but it is being highly encouraged that they receive it," said Grant. "One of the things that we wanted to make sure is that everyone was well-informed before they even scheduled their appointment, so all the information was actually made available electronically."

Dr. Toni Grant, Wayne State University, prepares the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at the Campus Health Center on Thursday, January 7, 2020.

Administering the first dose of the vaccine to the prioritized list of people will take the rest of January, Grant said. Giving out the second dose, which is automatically scheduled for 28 days after the first shot, will take all of February. 

Once the first group is vaccinated, the university will move on to other campus populations in the order that the Detroit Health Department outlines. 

"I'm excited because I want to help end this pandemic and the vaccination is the first way to do it. I'm confident that it's going to work," said Cara Cirovski, a nursing student at Wayne State who spends three days per week doing clinical trials. 

Vaccines aren't held at the Campus Health Center, which is where all doses will be given out at Wayne State.

Instead of making themselves first on the list, Health Center staff will be given any vaccine doses that are left after all appointments for the day. 

"We're getting the vaccine now but they're still trying to keep us safe," said WSU medical student Fouad Abdole. "As students, we don't work directly with COVID patients but just the whole environment because of the virus ... just being in the hospital is risky."

On Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the state will open up vaccination opportunities to all Michigan residents over the age of 65 and to front-line workers and teachers beginning Jan. 11. 

Dr. Toni Grant, right, Wayne State University, administers the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to Alex Yang, WSU 3rd-year medical student, at the Campus Health Center on Thursday, January 7, 2020.

The new phase will allow for those 65 and older, who have comprised 80% of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan, to receive a vaccine as well as front-line workers such as first responders, front-line state and federal workers, and jail and prison staff. 

Pre-K through 12th-grade teachers and childcare providers also will be eligible for vaccinations.