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Northwestern holds midnight vaccine clinic to use expiring doses

200 students vaccinated in last-minute vaccine clinic

Group poses in vaccine clinic

Northwestern students are accustomed to burning the midnight oil while studying. On Saturday, some of those night owls got a special opportunity. Thanks to quick-acting University staffers, about 200 students received their first COVID-19 vaccination shots in a midnight vaccination clinic at Norris University Center, put together at the last second to ensure unused vaccines did not go to waste.

Vice President of Operations Luke Figora said the University received notice at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday that the Pfizer doses were due to expire at 7 a.m. Sunday. The doses were offered to Northwestern through a local public health department that had excess doses at the end of the night. They said the University could have the vaccines – if it could commit to using them before they expired.

It’s a testament to the planning we’ve done and how committed we are to using every possible vaccine that we can get ahold of.

Luke Figora
Vice president for operations

Figora and Northwestern staff members sprang into action. On little notice, they were able to put together a team of 13 to set up the late-night clinic, including staff from Student Affairs, Residential Services, Health Services, the COVID Response Team and trainers from Athletics. Residential Services sent an email to all students living in residence halls, and the Athletics trainers sent a note to student athletes to ensure all slots were filled.

By 10 p.m., the staff volunteers started setting up the clinic. By 11 p.m., they were drawing vaccine doses. The first student was vaccinated at midnight. All of the roughly 200 doses were administered by shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday.

“It was a fantastic team effort to pull this off,” Figora said. “When I got the call about the doses, I was skeptical that we would be able to find providers to administer them at such short notice, and at an inconvenient time for staff who have families.”

Figora also was worried it would be difficult to find students available to get the vaccine that late on a Saturday night, and that they might not be checking their emails.

“But everything came together amazingly quickly, and the event went very smoothly,” Figora said. “It’s a sign of how dedicated our staff are. I think it speaks exceedingly well of Northwestern that we could make something like this happen. It’s a testament to the planning we’ve done and how committed we are to using every possible vaccine that we can get ahold of.”

In all, 197 students and one staff member were vaccinated at the overnight clinic. Everyone who received their first dose at the clinic will be able to get their second dose through the University as well. 

Jeremy Schenk, interim associate vice president for Student Affairs and executive director of Norris University Center, said it was yet another example of Norris serving a key role in the ongoing efforts to vaccinate the campus community.

“I am so happy that the Norris University Center, a space committed to building community at Northwestern, has been able to play such an important role hosting our on-campus vaccination clinics for students, faculty and staff,” Schenk said.

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