DeKALB – Northern Illinois University students have the opportunity to register this week for two upcoming COVID-19 one-dose vaccine clinics.
According to a Friday email to NIU students, university officials wrote the DeKalb County Health Department will host free COVID-19 vaccine clinics for NIU students only on Saturday, April 17 and Tuesday, April 20. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which is recommended for people aged 18 years and older and requires only one dose, will be administered at the clinics.
“Please take this important step to protect yourself, your fellow Huskies and your family and friends,” NIU officials wrote in the email. “Remember, COVID-19 cases in Illinois are rising again. In addition to scheduling your vaccine appointment, please remain vigilant, wear a mask, continue physical distancing and wash your hands frequently.”
All Illinoisans aged 16 and older became eligible for the vaccine Monday, though Pfizer is the only one approved for 16 and 17-year-olds.
Students who are vaccinated will be exempt from participating in weekly surveillance testing next fall, according to the NIU email.
“The more students who get vaccinated, the fewer restrictions we will have on campus in the fall,” the email read. “Meaning more face-to-face classes, more events and fewer limitations in residence halls [and] on-campus restaurants.”
Matt Streb, chief of staff to NIU President Lisa Freeman, said the university continues to test asymptomatic people’s saliva with a 24 hour results turnaround.
“And that’s something we’ve been doing all academic year and something we will continue to do all academic year,” Streb said.
Streb said the vaccinations currently are not required for students to attend NIU in the Fall 2021 semester, though multiple colleges and universities across the country have made it a requirement for their students. He said there haven’t been any decisions made one way or the other yet for the next year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death in people who do get sick. No one who contracted the virus at least four weeks after receiving the one-dose vaccine had to be hospitalized, the centers reported.
“In clinical trials, side effects were common within seven days of getting vaccinated but were mostly mild to moderate,” the CDC reported. “Side effects were more common in people 18–59 years old compared to people 60 years and older.”
Streb said the two clinics will be able to provide up to 3,500 doses total.
It’s unclear how many students have registered for either clinic as of Monday afternoon. DeKalb County Health Department officials were not immediately available for additional comment on Monday.
NIU officials wrote they strongly suggest students who can’t take advantage of the clinics make an appointment to get vaccinated at a clinic near their home as soon as possible.
“So students can get that shot before they go back to their home communities and be fully vaccinated,” Streb said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health also has a tool for residents to simply enter a ZIP code or the name of a community within the state to find the nearest COVID-19 vaccination center. Those interested can access it here www.coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/vaccination-location.
• This story will be updated as more information becomes available.