Advocacy for SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination of College Health Professionals

December 22, 2020

The introduction of effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccines has generated excitement and questions in the college health community. As you await more information from your state department of public health, ACHA’s leadership and its COVID-19 Task Force wanted to address some concerns for our college health communities.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) has made provisions for all health care personnel to be included in the Phase 1a distribution of the vaccine. The CDC definition of Phase 1a health care personnel is "…paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials." This definition includes the college health, public health, and emergency medical services professionals who provide in-person care on our campuses. While CDC and ACIP have set these recommendations, the implementation of the recommendations and the on-the-ground vaccination effort will be directed by state, tribal, territorial, and/or local public health authorities. Given this implementation strategy, advocacy for the inclusion of college health care providers in Phase 1a will be most effective at the local level.

Since distribution will occur on a rolling basis and supplies will initially be limited, hospital personnel will be the first to be vaccinated within Phase 1a. As more vaccine becomes available, other members of the health care community will be included. College health centers that are affiliated with medical centers will most likely already be part of the Phase 1a roll out for the medical center. However, college health centers that do not have that type of affiliation may need to make a specific request to their state, tribal, territorial, or local health department. We encourage college health professionals to communicate directly with their local public health departments about the health department’s plans to include college health providers in the early rollout of the vaccine in their area.

We have included a few advocacy tips as you develop your strategy for ensuring that your campus providers are included in the local vaccination effort in Phase 1a.

  1. Start by contacting your local, tribal, or territorial health department and asking them where they want your college health direct patient care providers to go for their vaccinations in Phase 1a. Also ask when and how the vaccine appointments can be scheduled. The same approach would hold for EMS and public health officials on your campus.

  2. If your college health providers are not included in the health departments’ plans for Phase 1a distribution, it would be helpful for you to explain how your providers fit the definition for Phase 1a by nature of the services you provide and the associated risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

We have developed a resource page on the ACHA website with resources on mass immunization and SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and they are available at:

Current COVID-19 vaccine recommendations can be viewed on CDC’s website.

ACHA continues to advocate at the national level for college health, and I extend my deepest gratitude for the role you are playing in providing care for your students and college communities while we continue to respond to this pandemic.

Yours in Health and Prevention,

Michael Huey, MD, FACHA
Interim Chief Executive Officer
American College Health Association