UCF to offer COVID-19 vaccines to employees on campus

Orange County DoH provides UCF with enough doses for 2,340 people

ORLANDO, Fla. – Beginning later this week, the University of Central Florida will offer vaccines to employees on campus, regardless of their age, according to an email from UCF.

The email states that on-campus vaccinations will get underway Thursday.

“We were all excited to get the email today that we are a vaccination site. It’s very exciting,” said journalism professor Rick Brunson.

According to an update from UCF, the school was able to secure enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County to fully vaccinate more than 2,340 workers.

While vaccines are being offered, Brunson said he feels safe with the health and safety protocols UCF already has in place.

“I’ve been meeting with my students since August, and I feel safer on campus because UCF has taken such stringent protocols. The vaccine is just an added layer of protection and makes me feel even better about going back into the classroom everyday and being back with your students,” said Brunson.

Brunson won’t be getting any of the doses offered by the university because he already got the first dose of the vaccine over the weekend at a FEMA site using his university ID.

“I’m very grateful to have a chance to have gotten this vaccine. My wife and I both had COVID in December. Thankfully, we had mild cases but even with a mild case it isn’t anything I’d wish on anybody,” said Brunson.

Brunson said he got the virus in between semesters when class wasn’t in session.

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University employees who want to get the vaccine, must register first. Those details can be found here.

The plans to vaccinate come days after a number of UCF professors were able to receive COVID-19 vaccines at the FEMA-supported site at Valencia College’s West Campus over the weekend, despite the fact that they did not meet state or federal criteria.

“We appreciate the Florida Department of Health in Orange County providing us with vaccines, and we look forward to giving shots -- and hope for a healthy future -- to our employees starting Thursday,” associate vice president of Student Health Services Dr. Michael Deichen said in a statement. “We also are thankful that the Department of Health is providing vaccines for all educators at the Orange County Convention Center and other sites in Orange County. We encourage all of our employees to get the vaccine, and we look forward to our students eventually having the opportunity to receive shots, too.”

Currently, federal eligibility requirements allow all K-12, pre-K or child care workers to get vaccinated, regardless of their age, at federal sites. State-run sites that are operating under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ latest executive order are offering shots to law enforcement officers, firefighters and school staff who are 50 are older, in addition to those deemed “extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19 by a doctor. The governor recently announced that he plans to lower the age requirement to 60, down from 65 for Floridians who don’t qualify for the shots under any of the other criteria.

As UCF prepares the campus for a full return in the fall, Brunson is encouraging his colleagues to get the shot.

“The fact that we can get this vaccine and give our immune system a strong burst and get back to living life, doing business and doing what we love is a great feeling,” said Brunson.

According to UCF, this second allotment of vaccines will not cover all of UCF’s employees, and the university continues to encourage all eligible faculty and staff to take advantage of additional sites offering vaccines.

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About the Authors:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.