The Iowa state Board of Regents and other representatives of higher education sent a letter to the Iowa Department of Public Health advocating for faculty in postsecondary institutions to be added to phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine plan on Monday.
The Iowa Association of Colleges and Universities, Iowa Association of Community College Trustees, and the Iowa Department of Education joined the regents in signing the letter.
University of Iowa Faculty Council President Joseph Yockey informed the council of the regents letter during the council’s meeting on Tuesday. He said the Department of Public Health has not commented or responded to the letter yet.
“Currently, faculty in higher education institutions are not part of the phase 1B roll out,” he said. “Those groups advocated that [we be added]…I haven’t heard anything in terms of an official response one way or another.”
Administrative Liaison for the Office of the President Joni Troester said she was advised the regent’s letter asked for faculty in higher education to be considered at the same time as Pre-K-12 teachers in Iowa.
As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, phase 1B will begin in Iowa on Feb. 1. The phase includes individuals age 65 and older, Pre-K-12 school staff, and first responders.
UI Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine Nicole Nisly, who is a member of the Faculty Council, said her email has been flooded with questions about the vaccination process.
She said the university needs to create a clear, succinct message to send to people who want to be vaccinated but don’t have the qualifications to be.
“We’re getting virtually buried in messages from patients, from faculty, from students, from staff, on the COVID vaccine,” she said. “It’s like 90 percent of our messages related to ‘how can I get it and why am I not getting it.’ The community is just so lost … People are just so desperate and they don’t know where to go.”
Troester said the UI’s vaccination distribution workgroup has started adding vaccine updates to the university’s triweekly COVID-19 updates.