UW unlikely to return to online format this semester, says UHS leadership The Badger Herald

University Health Services is working with University of Wisconsin Health to encourage the UW and Madison community to get vaccinated as Omicron cases increase and students return to in-person classes.

In 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services designated UW Health the “regional distribution center” for vaccine distribution as Pfizer vaccine doses became more available that year. In partnership with Wisconsin DHS, UW Health is responsible for distributing the Pfizer vaccine to health systems and care facilities in the region.

UW-Health is an “excellent” candidate as a distribution center for Pfizer vaccines because of its unique ability to refrigerate, store and deliver them, said UHS Associate Vice Chancellor Jake Baggott.

Baggott said this relationship between UW and UHS health is mutually beneficial.

“We’re all part of the same community and we work closely together,” Baggott said.

In an emailed statement to the Badger Herald, UW spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said students can provide information on COVID-19-related issues to the COVID-19 Student Advisory Council.

The advisory board consists of 12 students and meets approximately every three weeks. According to McGlone, some left the group, leaving it at six members. Student Affairs has reached out to Madison Student Associates to seek board nominations, McGlone said.

Individuals interested in serving on the advisory board can contact [email protected] or ASM shared governance [email protected]

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So far, UW has not considered a threshold for COVID-19 cases that would pivot it to teaching online, McGlone said. In addition, UHS is confident the university will operate in-person throughout the spring semester, according to Baggott.

“Our protocols helped us have a safe and successful campus operation last fall, and we are confident that we will continue to be able to do so throughout the spring,” Baggott said.

UHS intended to expedite the authorization of large-scale community vaccines by sharing and communicating with community distributors, Baggott said.

As UW enters its fifth semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Baggott said growing familiarity with COVID-19 response protocols has allowed for a greater diversity of vaccination options and information, driving more students off campus for their recall. UHS does not offer Moderna boosters and recommends students visit off-campus sites for a third dose of Moderna.

Students can be vaccinated on campus or off campus and must document their booster vaccination on their MyUHS Account. Baggott said many students who are boosted don’t document their status, restricting a full understanding of the booster’s effectiveness in the community.

“We have documentation to show that there are very strong numbers [of booster shots]Baggott said. “But we know there’s a lot more out there.”

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