Boston University suspended its COVID-19 vaccination program Friday due to Massachusetts’ new prioritization of mass vaccination centers and other providers.
The state’s new prioritization halts vaccine distribution to higher education institutions.
“We had put our vaccination program in place with the aim of immunizing as many BU community members as possible,” BU Healthway wrote in an email to the BU community. “With the state’s decision, however, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to reach that goal anytime soon.”
The university expects to be able to provide second doses for individuals who have already received their first dose on campus.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley said the state decided to focus its efforts on mass vaccination sites due to the limited availability of the vaccine.
“I think this is all dependent on increased supply to the state,” Riley said, “and the state making the decision and prioritizing which sites they want to distribute it.”
The lack of vaccine availability brings more uncertainty about the logistics of in-person learning for the Summer and Fall semesters. However, Riley said the termination of the vaccine program will not significantly change the University’s plan for the next academic year.
“I don’t think that’s there’s an impact there,” he said. “Really, it’s a national issue with getting the U.S. population vaccinated in the most efficient and effective way. States are the ones who are making the decisions, I believe, for availability.”
Massachusetts is currently in Phase Two of vaccine rollout. Individuals over the age of 65, people with more than two medical conditions and residents or staff of low-income and affordable senior housing are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
Phase Three is scheduled to start in April, and higher education workers and administrators can expect to be eligible for the vaccine.
BU received 500 doses of the vaccine in January and eligible health care workers and those with certain pre-existing health conditions were able to get vaccinated, Riley said.
“We’re fortunate that these employees who were eligible and received it,” Riley said. “But from here on out, people like myself who are eligible will have to be patient and look for an opportunity to register and get vaccinated.”
BU Healthway encourages eligible individuals to get vaccinated at one of the state’s vaccination sites, such as Fenway Park. Those who are eligible can find their nearest mass vaccine sites by using the state’s vaccine finder or by calling 211 — a line that offers COVID-19 information.
“I think prioritizing the vaccine distribution makes sense,” Riley added. “So that the people who are at the greatest risk of serious illness or death should receive it first.”