GREENSBORO — Local residents soon will have another place to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
N.C. A&T on Thursday will become the first UNC System campus to dispense the vaccine. The university plans to give the first of two required doses on Thursdays, then the second dose on Tuesdays starting in March.
The 200 available slots for A&T's first clinic on Thursday were claimed quickly by eligible people affiliated with the university: employees and a few students who are 65 and older, and employees and students who work in health care.
A university spokesman said Tuesday that A&T plans to have 350 slots available for its next clinic, which is scheduled for Feb. 18. Appointments can be made online starting Friday.
Appointments for the Feb. 18 and later clinics will be open to any community member eligible to receive a vaccine. Currently in North Carolina, only health care workers, residents and employees of long-term care facilities and anyone 65 and older are eligible.
A&T anticipates giving out first doses of the vaccine each Thursday as long as it has a supply. The university also plans to set up a waiting list so doses don't have to be thrown out if people miss their appointments.
Both rounds of shots will be given at A&T's Alumni-Foundation Event Center, located on Benbow Road. Employees of the university's student health center — which has doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and certified medical assistants on staff — will administer the vaccines. They'll be working with Cone Health and the Guilford County Department of Public Health.
A&T will administer the Moderna vaccine.
It's important to the community that A&T distribute COVID-19 vaccines, university spokesman Todd Simmons said. Black Americans have a deep and abiding distrust of the health care system, and there seems to be reluctance among African Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Roy Cooper's office said Tuesday that Blacks make up 22% of the state's population but have gotten just 18% of the more than 1.4 million vaccinations administered so far in North Carolina.
An Elon University Poll released Tuesday found that only 36% of North Carolina's Black residents say they'll get a vaccine when it's available. That's a lower percentage than white (47%) and other (44%) state residents.
To that end, A&T is hoping that offering the vaccine on campus will be enough to allay the concerns of Black residents.
"We see this very much as a challenge," Simmons said. "We want to be part of solving it."
A&T last week released a three-minute video featuring Chancellor Harold Martin and his wife, Davida Martin, the retired Forsyth County attorney, getting their COVID-19 vaccines in late January.
The chancellor said in the video that he realizes that mistrust of the health care system in Black communities is "deep-seated" because of a historic lack of Black doctors and nurses and the infamous Tuskegee Study, in which the federal government studied syphilis — a potentially fatal sexually transmitted illness — for 40 years by not treating Black men who had the disease.
"I understand the anxiety and fear but, listen, I understand the science," said Martin, an electrical engineer by training who leads a university that wins close to $70 million in research funding annually. "I am a scientist. ... I trust the science."
While A&T will be North Carolina's first state university to host an on-campus vaccine clinic, other UNC System schools plan to offer their own in the coming weeks. UNC-Asheville, UNC-Pembroke and Western Carolina University are expected to launch vaccination clinics late next week, UNC System spokeswoman Jane Stancill said Tuesday.
UNCG and Winston-Salem State University representatives said Tuesday that their institutions are planning for clinics but haven't yet decided on opening dates.
Elsewhere among North Carolina colleges and universities, High Point University's Community Center at the former Oak Hollow Mall is one of three community vaccination sites organized by Guilford County's health department.
Three health care systems affiliated with universities — Wake Forest Baptist Health, Duke Health and UNC Health — are administering vaccines.
Stancill said UNC Health has administered more than 120,000 vaccines so far across its health system. More than 15,000 of those doses have been given out since mid-January at the Friday Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Stancill said that site has been UNC Health's busiest vaccine clinic.
Want to make an appointment?
To get a COVID-19 vaccine at N.C. A&T, make an appointment online at tinyurl.com/k7udty5s. The university said appointments for the Feb. 18 vaccine clinic will be posted at that website Friday.
Persons eligible for the vaccine must be in Group 1 (health care workers and staff and residents of long-term care facilities) or Group 2 (anyone 65 or older).
Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.