COVID-19 I WIU begins COVID-19 vaccinations of some faculty and staff

By CAYSON FRERICHS, Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) – As COVID-19 vaccines begin to be available across Illinois and the country, some faculty on the WIU campus have had the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and be vaccinated.

“Campus populations that fell within 1A [phase] would be entities like Beu Health Center, our nursing students who actually go out and actually do clinicals at hospital locations and members of WEMS, Western Emergency Medical Services,” Joe Roselieb, WIU executive director of Auxiliary Services and Risk Management, said. 

Illinois is currently in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan, which includes education workers in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. 

However, higher education professors and instructors are not included in this group.

“A survey went out from the university to all employees and that survey asked several questions if they qualified for age or had underlying health conditions,” Roselieb said. “Things that could really help the health department when they look at the campus population and break them off with how many people do we have in this category.”

Roselieb said he is optimistic about getting faculty members and students on campus vaccinated, but said a lower number of vaccines delivered to the county has slowed down the process.

“We are only getting between 400 and 500 vaccines a week which as you can imagine goes pretty fast,” Roselieb said.

Roselieb said it is too early to tell when the entire student body will have the chance to be vaccinated. 

According to Roselieb, the health department has released more information to further educate the public and to help “maybe persuade people” to get the vaccine. He also said at “this point in time” there is not a plan to require the vaccine for faculty, staff and students.

“I would really like to see if 1B opened up and higher education was included and we could get faculty and staff in,” Roselieb said. “I would really like to see us done in the next couple months with faculty and staff who are wanting it.”

However, with no option to be able to vaccinate a mass quantity of individuals at this time, the university wants to adopt a more aggressive testing approach to limit the spread of the virus to large groups of people.

University officials continue to urge those on campus to keep following the Covid protocols in place and limit large gatherings of people on and off campus.