Illinois vaccine eligibility now includes Titans

Katie Fata

Illustration: Katie Fata

Starting Monday, April 12, all Illinois residents over the age of sixteen living outside of Cook County will be eligible to get vaccinated for COVID-19. 

The announcement came Monday, April 5 as a response to the recent rise in infection rates all over the state. Illinois colleges have jumped into action as the semester comes to an end, many hoping to provide students with vaccines before they head back home. University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (UIUC) emailed the campus almost immediately and notified faculty, staff and students that there was a select number of COVID-19 vaccine appointments available for individuals 16 years of age or older who live or work in Champaign County. 

Titans’ received a similar email on the afternoon of Thursday, April 8, and were notified of the change in eligibility and that the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) had provided IWU with 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to the email, students attending May term or participating in May term required activities would be prioritized and have been emailed with registration information. Another email will go out Sunday night and any remaining vaccination times will be made available to all students. 

As vaccine eligibility continues to widen, universities all over the country are beginning to make decisions on if they will require students to return dutifully holding that little white card with their vaccination information on it. Many east coast schools, including Cornell and Rutgers University, have mandated vaccine requirements for students wanting to return for on-campus learning in the fall. 

No Illinois colleges have made the call quite yet, including Illinois Wesleyan. 

“At this time, we are not planning to require the vaccine because it’s approval status is for emergency use,” Dean Karla Carney-Hall said

Carney-Hall said that if the FDA fully approves the vaccine, IWU will consider requiring it just as other vaccinations are required. Illinois state law currently requires all students to submit proof to their university of immunizations for diseases like meningitis, mumps, and tetanus. 

“However, we are encouraging all students to get the vaccine. The broad availability of the vaccine allows for our public health goals to be met more quickly and we fully support all students, faculty and staff getting the vaccine, if they are able,” Carney-Hall said.