The end of the COVID-19 era is at hand. Governor Ron DeSantis announced on March 25 via Twitter that vaccinations would be available to all adults over 40 on March 29. Additionally, on April 5, all adults over 18 years of age will become eligible for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Even Floridians as young as 16, will be eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This means nearly all New College students, staff and faculty will be eligible for vaccination and the return to normalcy that comes with it.
But while the expansion of eligibility to all adults is a major step, it is not the end of the process; shots need to be put in arms. In this manner, Florida lags behind the rest of the nation as of March 25. Of the 22 million population, only three million are fully vaccinated, the thirteenth lowest of the fifty states plus the District of Columbia. Only 74% of the doses distributed to the state have been administered, the fourteenth lowest of the nation. Florida lowering the eligibility comes two weeks after President Biden announced that he was targeting May 1 as the date that he wished for all adults to be eligible for vaccination.
“[Fall campus life] is going to depend on how many people are vaccinated, not just on the college campus but in our surrounding areas.” Yosef Shapiro, Director of Environmental Health and Safety/Emergency Management, said before the March 25 announcement. “What they’re looking for nationwide is for 5% [of the people in the community testing positive]. At one point, we were looking at ridiculous numbers like 14%, then we’ve been more commonly seeing like 6% or 7% this week. So it depends on the positivity rate, the availability of the vaccine, and how many people have actually been vaccinated.”
Even as the population of New College becomes eligible for the vaccination, it is unclear as to whether or not the campus itself will be host to a vaccination site.
“[Whether NCF becomes a vaccination site depends] on availability of the vaccine, how much of it they actually get, whether they’ll set up an appointed distribution site on our campus, or if it’ll be nearby,” Shapiro said. “That’s not been finalized yet, so that could go either way.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the distribution of the vaccine, there is cautious optimism for the campus in the upcoming fall semester.
“The campus feels better, it thrives, it has an energy when there are more people on campus,” Shapiro said. “By the time we get to fall, we’re hoping for the large majority of people will, hopefully, be able to feel comfortable and will be safe.”
Sources for this article were gathered from the tampabay.com and beckershospitalreview.com