‘It’s a good feeling’: University of Iowa wraps up first week vaccinating students with Johnson & Johnson

Students can show interest in getting the vaccine by taking a survey that was sent out on April 2, and from there will be contacted by the university to set up an appointment.


Tate Hildyard

University of Iowa first year, medical student, Tanner Kempton gets his COVID-19 vaccination at the Westlawn Student Health Center in Iowa City on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021. With the eligibility requirements for vaccinations lifted, University of Iowa students are now able to book appointments to get their vaccinations.

Brady Osborne, News Reporter

University of Iowa senior Maeve Craven checked with local HyVee’s for open vaccine appointments once eligibility opened up to all adults this week but didn’t have any luck.

She hardly returned home to visit her parents them in the last year to prevent exposure to the virus, so getting a vaccine would be key to keeping them — and everyone else — safe.

So, when the UI sent out an email inviting students to schedule an appointment for a one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Craven quickly signed up.

“I’ve been trying to get it for a while through HyVee and stuff just because my parents are very concerned about COVID, and I don’t go home a lot to see them just because they don’t want to be potentially exposed…” Craven said. “Every time I looked, though, the times were taken.”

This week wrapped up the first week the University of Iowa began vaccinating any students and staff for COVID-19 — the UI previously had vaccinated university employees and students in priority groups — in an effort to immunize campus before the summer. Before the state announced the public universities would receive allocations of vaccinations, the UI told its students and staff they would likely need to look outside the university to be immunized.

As of Monday, all adults in the state of Iowa are eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. As a result of this proclamation from Gov. Kim Reynolds, the UI, along with other colleges and universities in the state, received an allocation of vaccines to give to their students, faculty, and staff.

The UI used 425 of 500 doses received from the state, UI spokesperson for Student Health Lisa James said. It left some for vaccination appointments on April 12 before the next shipment arrives April 13. The UI is expecting 1,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson for students and 1,170 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for faculty and staff.

In a COVID-19 update sent out by the university on April 2, students were able to take a survey to show interest in getting their vaccination.

Assistant Vice President for External Relations Jeneane Beck, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan on Monday that as early as April 2, the school received a high level of interest from students, saying the schedules for Tuesday and Wednesday this week were full.

“Some students received an ‘invitation to schedule’ as early as Friday afternoon and are scheduled to be vaccinated this week,” Beck said. “We are very pleased with the level of interest among our students.”

The university said students who fill out the survey get their information put on a waiting list for vaccine appointments, and once there are appointments available, they are allowed to schedule theirs.

UI sophomore Allison Sass said the process to sign up for a vaccine appointment was easy.

“It was easier than I expected to be honest, I had a feeling it would kind of be all over the place,” Sass said. “Except, yeah it ended up being really easy. I just basically said I wanted it, and then the next day I got an email to schedule an appointment.”

Because of the high levels of interest in the vaccine, Beck said there are students who have signed up to get an appointment that have still not heard back. She said this is because the number of vaccines that the university can administer in a given week is dependent on what the state gives them.

“While we expect to have increased vaccine availability over the coming weeks, it will take time to get everyone scheduled for vaccination,” Beck wrote. “The number of vaccines we can give is dependent on the number of doses we receive from the state and county and vaccinations will be provided on a first come, first served basis. If you can be vaccinated sooner at an approved location, such as a local pharmacy, we encourage you to do so.”

Next week, the UI will receive 1,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses for students, and 1,170 Pfizer doses for faculty and staff in an allocation from the federal government, Sarah Ekstrand, public information officer for the Iowa Department of Public Health, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.

Iowa State University will be receiving the same allotment from the federal government, and the smaller University of Northern Iowa will receive 500 Johnson & Johnson doses for students, and 1,170 Pfizer doses for faculty and staff.

So far in Iowa, 711,748 vaccine series have been completed as of Thursday, according to the state’s vaccine tracker. About 41,200 people in Johnson County had completed vaccinations as of Thursday, about 27 percent of the county’s population.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in contrast to Pfizer and Moderna, is a one-shot vaccine that does not require a follow-up appointment, making it easier to administer for students leading up to the end of the semester.

Johnson County Community Health Manager Sam Jarvis said while people may have preferences for which brand of vaccine to get, the brand shouldn’t matter as much as just getting the shot to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re really asking folks to not worry about the preference,” Jarvis said. “Certainly, whatever vaccine is available to you, please take the opportunity to be vaccinated.”

When asked about receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rather than Pfizer or Moderna, Sass said Johnson & Johnson was the logical choice for the university.

“I’m fine with it because, for logistical reasons, especially with the semester ending, I feel like it’d be hard to get people in for their two doses,” Sass said. “So, I feel like that’s the best way for them to vaccinate the most people.”

UI third-year Jared Johnson said after receiving his vaccine through UI Student Health, he is most excited for when herd immunity is reached to finally take the mask off.

“It is a good feeling,” Johnson said. “I am ready to take the mask off and have life get back to normal.”