Northeastern University offering leftover coronavirus vaccine doses to school community

Northeastern University has been doling out coveted coronavirus vaccine doses to members of the school community even as local boards of health have been cut out of the process and thousands across the state clamor to sign up for appointments.

It’s a development in the tumultuous coronavirus vaccine rollout that Gov. Charlie Baker said he didn’t even know was happening when asked about it by the Herald during a Tuesday press conference.

“The only (vaccine) work that I’m aware of colleges and universities doing was around their own health care workers,” Baker said during the State House briefing.

But according to Northeastern’s website, the university is offering vaccines to “affiliated staff, faculty, students, and vendor employees.”

NU spokeswoman Shannon Nargi said the college used leftover doses after vaccinating first responders and COVID-facing health care workers. Extra doses, she said, went to vaccinate “members of the university community” who are eligible per state guidelines.

It’s “special treatment” one adjunct professor — who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation — said is giving students, professors and staff “easier access to vaccines.”

“I just don’t think it’s right,” the professor said. There were a dozen appointments listed at a Northeastern vaccination site on Tuesday, while just one was available at the Reggie Lewis Center mass vaccination site for the general public just blocks away in Roxbury.

It’s unclear if other colleges across Massachusetts have been provided vaccines by the state to use for students, staff and professors. Repeated requests for information from the state were left unanswered on Tuesday.

A Boston University website also outlines a plan in which it hoped to vaccinate “all students, faculty, and staff.” A university spokesman did not respond to questions on Tuesday.

Neither college appears among the 176 stars pinpointing public vaccination sites on a map of locations posted on the state’s website.

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, criticized a vaccine rollout that she said “makes no sense.” She has requested a formal audit and called on the inspector general to investigate the Baker administration’s plans.

Northeastern launched its “Vax the Pack” effort on Jan. 15 with 2,000 doses leftover after vaccinating first responders and health care workers, states a university news article.

Nargi said the state on Monday informed Northeastern that due to “inadequate supply,” it would “prioritize other providers, particularly the state’s mass vaccination sites.”

A Baker administration official said the state “has been clear that colleges received vaccine to vaccinate first responders and COVID-facing health care workers.”

But on the street near the Cabot Physical Education Center on Tuesday, where vaccinations were taking place, a Herald reporter spoke to a 20-year-old student who said he suffers from asthma and is immunocompromised and had just received his second dose of vaccine.

A 56-year-old history professor also said he received his second vaccine on Tuesday — three weeks after getting his first dose.

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