URI urges COVID-19 vaccinations after finding variants on campus

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island late Wednesday said it will allow its entire campus community to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine at a nearby state-run clinic, after contagious variants of the coronavirus were identified on campus over the past month.

URI did not say how many cases of the new variants were identified on campus. A spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The school is not requiring students and staff to get vaccinated. But in a statement, it said  the new variants that have been detected in Rhode Island have the potential to spread more rapidly and cause more severe disease in the community. The variants could also affect URI’s treatments, tests and vaccines, the university said.

URI said that on April 24-25, faculty, staff and students – including out-of-state students – will be able to get a vaccine at the Schneider Electric Building, 132 Fairgrounds Road, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day by registering online. The Pfizer vaccine will be available on April 24, while the Moderna vaccine will be available the next day. A shuttle will also run from the campus Memorial Union bus circle to the site continuously each day, URI said.

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URI Health Services Medical Director Dr. Christopher Nasin said in a statement Wednesday that while finding the new variants on campus is not unexpected, it reinforces the importance of protecting oneself and others. URI also said students and staff should continue participating in biweekly testing on campus.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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