Northeastern University begins COVID-19 vaccinations

Nurse practitioner Jackie Fox administers the first Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Iloisa Teixeira, a staff member at Northeastern’s Cabot Testing Center. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

On Tuesday, Northeastern became one of the first universities in the United States to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Eighty-eight people who work in the Cabot Testing Center and the Life Sciences Testing Center received their first dose.  

Northeastern, which is an official Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Provider, received 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the commonwealth to administer to Phase One individuals, with more doses to come. Included in the first group are clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers doing direct COVID-facing care, police and first responders, and healthcare workers doing non-COVID-facing care.

“It’s not only remarkable that we’re one of the first to have the vaccine, but also that we’ve built a testing facility that is the gold standard,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern, as he stood in Cabot, where the first individuals were receiving the vaccine. “The whole community came together to ensure that wellness and safety are not negotiable. The vaccine is another manifestation of how we’ve been a pioneering community in terms of safety.” 

Iloisa “Lola” Teixeira, who works in the Cabot Testing Center as a medical assistant overseeing swabbing, was the first Northeastern community member to receive the vaccine. 

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern, celebrates as the first Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is administered at Northeastern’s testing center at the Cabot Physical Education Center. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Rolling up the right sleeve of her shirt, which was emblazoned with Northeastern’s “We Test To Protect” motto, Teixeira readied her upper arm for Jackie Fox, a nurse practitioner at UHCS, to administer her dose. 

Teixeira looked away and winced slightly when the needle went in, but assured that “it didn’t even hurt—I just do that for all needles.” She says she’ll celebrate at home later with a glass of wine. 

Teixeira, who is from Cape Verde and lives in Dorchester, Mass., has worked at the Cabot Testing Center from the day it opened. She says she has been personally affected by the coronavirus—a member of her family died from COVID-19 earlier this year—and she is relieved to now be protected from the virus. 

The university estimates that about 1,500 individuals from the Northeastern community are eligible for Phase One vaccinations. About 1,000 of those receiving Phase One vaccines are students working in direct patient care in co-ops and other clinical care positions. Doses will continue to be administered as soon as more become available from the commonwealth. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be provided, depending on supply.   

“Our hope is to scale up to being able to vaccinate 1,000-plus people per day,” says Christine Civiletto, the interim executive director at UHCS, who helps oversee vaccine operations. 

The vaccines will be administered in the Cabot Testing Center by trained medical professionals with clinical and public health expertise. 

People will receive the vaccine at one of 10 stations set up in the testing center, and each patient will be monitored for 15 minutes after inoculation. In the event of an allergic reaction, epinephrine pens are ready on-hand. 

Vaccines are administered in two doses. Public health officials in the U.S. recommend that individuals receive the same vaccine—whether Pfizer or Moderna—for both doses. People vaccinated at Northeastern will receive notifications from the university when they are due for their second dose. 

Phase Two, which will include people with comorbidities, those 65 and older, and essential service workers, is expected to begin in February at Northeastern. 

Planning is currently underway to work with local governments at other campuses in Northeastern’s global network to bring vaccines to the university’s international community.

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