UA president encourages students to get vaccinated, says grads can bring up to 4 guests to commencement

UA president encourages students to get vaccinated, says grads can bring up to 4 guests to commencement
Vaccine drive-thru at the University of Arizona. (Source: Randy Metcalf)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The University of Arizona’s COVID-19 vaccination site has surpassed 130,000 vaccinations, President Robert C. Robbins said Tuesday, April 6, during a virtual weekly briefing.

People working at the site had administered 133,551 as of Tuesday morning, including more than 26,000 during the past week. This new total accounts for more than a quarter of all 504,000 doses that have been given throughout Pima County.

The university vaccination site is now opening additional appointments every day based on cancellations and capacity. Those who are interested in getting vaccinated should check availability daily on the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

Robbins encouraged students to register for vaccination appointments, including out-of-state and international students. Students who get immunized can earn a reward worth $5 at the Arizona Student Unions or University of Arizona Book Stores. To get the award, students should upload their vaccination card after their final dose.

“I know it sounds like a small thing, but it’s good public health policy to get immunized, and if you do, you’re going to get to have $5 to go spend on coffee or whatever you want to at the bookstore,” Robbins said.

The vaccination site, Robbins said, is still in need of volunteers, especially in non-medical roles. Those interested in volunteering can visit covid19.arizona.edu/vaccine and look for the section titled “Volunteer Opportunities.”

Anyone age 16 or older is eligible to schedule an appointment at state vaccination sites, including the one at UA. Appointments can be scheduled through the Arizona Department of Health Services website. Those needing assistance can email covidhelp@arizona.edu or call 602-542-1000 or 844-542-8201 for help in Spanish or English. About 22.3% of the people vaccinated at the UArizona site have self-identified as Hispanic or Latinx.

Due to a low on-campus positivity rate of 0.31%, the university will remain in Stage 3 of its instructional plan at least through next week, Robbins said. This stage, which began on March 29, allows for in-person instruction for classes of up to 100 students.

“While this low positivity rate is an encouraging sign for the campus community, we are seeing reasons for concern in the broader community, and our wastewater experts have reported a higher concentration of COVID-19 in wastewater countywide,” Robbins said.

“The best thing we can do now is to continue to mask up, stay as physically distanced as possible, and (get) as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can,” he added.

Graduates allowed to bring 4 guests to commencement ceremonies

Graduates participating in the 2021 commencement can bring up to four guests to their college’s ceremony next month, Robbins said during Tuesday’s briefing.

Commencement will include in-person ceremonies in Arizona Stadium and other outdoor venues from May 11-18. All ceremonies will be live-streamed for those who wish to attend virtually. Visit the commencement website for more information.

Robbins said the Monday morning event to welcome home the women’s basketball team – which completed a history-making run in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday – was a good sign that the stadium can safely accommodate a limited number of guests.

But the new commencement ceremony guidelines are subject to change as experts track COVID-19 transmission data.

“If public health conditions do change … we will modify the ceremony plans as needed to minimize the risk for graduates, guests, our staff, faculty and people in the community,” Robbins said. “This includes revoking the guest policy or moving to a fully virtual experience if necessary.”

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