Vaccinating Kentucky: UK adds Johnson & Johnson vaccine to arsenal

Posted at 2:44 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 18:16:14-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — University of Kentucky senior Ava Stukas hates needles.

“To put it lightly,” she joked inside the Blue Box Theatre at the UK student center.

But Stukas hates the idea of getting, or unwittingly transmitting the COVID-19 virus, so she overcame the fear by getting the vaccine. Many students like her will now have that chance as UK has secured a limited supply of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.

“We’re going to go for as long as we can. We’ll keep talking to the state. They’ve been a tremendous partner, they’ve had us fully supplied with Pfizer (the vaccine used at the school’s Kroger Field clinic). We’ll see how it goes,” said Jay Blanton, UK’s director for public relations and marketing.

Blanton echoed something university President Eli Capilouto said about setting a goal for a return to fairly normal on-campus living by autumn.

“Coming out of a pandemic, things might not ever be quite the same, but we want to get it really close to normal,” Blanton said UK's plan.

This vaccine clinic is a big step in the right direction. Not only is it given in a single dose, but university officials strategically placed the clinic next to the mandatory COVID-19 testing station, making it about as convenient as possible for any student who wants the shot, to receive one.

“Yeah, it does feel good. It’s a relief and we can move on now, hopefully,” said senior Griffin Flesch who had the virus six months ago. His symptoms were minor, but did include a loss of taste and smell.

“I lost a few pounds,” he said.

Blanton said the Gatton Center clinic is hoping to see anywhere from 50-70 students per day, and up to 500 per month.

“We’re here to serve, we’re here to educate, and research and care. It’s not a zero-sum game. When someone gets vaccinated it makes everybody safer,” Blanton added.

The school prefers to have each student make an appointment for their vaccine but if the supply is there, walk-up students will be given consideration as well.