As nation marks grim milestone, San Diego County expands vaccine eligibility

All SDSU faculty, staff and student employees are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of age.

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Brenden Tuccinardi

While expanded vaccine eligibility offers a glimmer of hope, the country mourns the loss of more than 500,000 lives to COVID-19. The flags in front of Hepner Hall flew at half mast in honor of those lost.

by Brenden Tuccinardi, Editor in Chief

500,000 more San Diego county residents will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now that the county has moved into Phase 1B, Tier 1. Individuals working in the emergency services, food/agriculture and childcare/education sectors can now make appointments at San Diego County vaccination sites and through their healthcare providers.

Among the half-million newly eligible individuals are all San Diego State faculty, staff, and student employees, regardless of age, including employees of the SDSU Research Foundation, Aztec Shops, Associated Students, and the Campanile Foundation. 

Eligible employees will need to provide either their SDSUid card with their RedID or a past pay stub as proof of eligibility. 

However, demand far exceeds supply. San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher warned that it could take weeks for newly eligible individuals to receive appointments, even though they will be able to, beginning on Saturday, Feb. 27.

“There will not be half a million appointments on Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday or for many weeks coming forward,” Fletcher said at a Feb. 24 press conference. “We need folks to be patient.”

In addition to vaccination sites operated by San Diego and Imperial Counties, local clinics, pharmacies and their primary care physicians, eligible SDSU community members can make appointments at Student Health Services, which received an additional 300 vaccine doses on Feb. 25. 

SDSU will begin administering these doses starting Feb. 26. The university is prioritizing SDSU and SDSU Imperial County employees (including student workers) who have been working on campus since March 2020 and those currently scheduled to receive their second doses.

Additional information will be shared with individuals through their official SDSU emails. 

Molecular and cellular biology senior, Sam Suess, received one of the initial 300 doses allocated to the university at the beginning of February. 

“It was the highlight of this year,” Suess said. “I feel protected, more helpful and optimistic.”

Suess, a resident advisor on campus, was eligible for the vaccine because she volunteers at Alvarado Hospital. 

Linda Woods, an instructional designer in SDSU Instructional Technology Services (ITS), also received her first dose at Calpulli Center. 

Woods said the process was “so simple” and very comfortable. 

“The nurse who gave me my shot explained a lot of different things about the shot and covid – as if I didn’t know what it was,” Woods said. “Then she just gave me the jab, and I went and sat for 30 minutes.”

Both Woods and Suess had no severe symptoms beyond a sore arm following their first doses.

“I did feel like someone punched me in the arm,” Suess said. “The next day, I ended up working out, and the blood started flowing, or something like everything just started feeling normal.”

Despite vaccines beginning to shine a little light at the end of the tunnel, the expansion of eligibility comes as the nation commemorates a grim milestone: more than 500,000 dead from COVID-19. 

“The vaccine eligibility for our faculty and staff coincides with a painful milestone: the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic and state stay-at-home orders,” SDSU President Adela de la Torre wrote in a campus-wide email sent Thursday evening. “We remind our community that our university offers counseling, virtual exercise groups, virtual support for employees and also emergency funds for students.”

More information about the university’s vaccination plan and COVID-19 testing is available here.

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