Ineligible students received vaccine as registration link circulated

Mike Weilandt, Staff Reporter

The COVID-19 vaccine sign up link leaked Feb. 9 and was still in circulation at least a month later, and a number of non-eligible undergraduate students have successfully received the vaccine by using it.

The link, which redirects to a Tulane Living Well webpage, was leaked from one or more unknown sources after being sent to certain prioritized groups, including medical school students and faculty, on Feb. 9. 

Hours after the leak, Tulane administration sent an email to undergraduates that did not directly address the leak but reminded students to only sign up for vaccination if they received a link directly from the Tulane School of Medicine.

Though Tulane’s response was rapid, a number of students were able to get inoculated through this link before the school was made aware. 

Two Tulane affiliates who received the vaccine through the link agreed to speak with The Hullabaloo, anonymously. They scheduled appointments quickly when they were sent the link to register, and received their first dose the same day the link to the sign up page was leaked.

“I made my appointment for two hours after I got the link, because I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to last long and that it was probably a mistake,” one source said. “We went to the Tulane Medical school … We told the people there that we were undergraduate students, and nobody seemed to be alarmed by that or thought that was weird at all.”

Another source reported similar ease in receiving the vaccine: “They did not ask me anything when I went to get the vaccine. It was super easy.”

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines, both available and still in development, require two doses. This includes the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, of which Tulane received about 5,000 doses back in January

Both sources were able to get their second shot on March 2, as the appointment to receive it was made directly after receiving the first shot.

“We scheduled the appointment for our second shot pretty much immediately after getting our first shot, so our appointment was already scheduled by the time we left and everything was stopped,” a source said.

Both affiliates also received the vaccine link through a chain of texts. They both reported that the link they received originated from a fellow undergraduate, though no name was provided.

“It’s an undergraduate student — a senior. They somehow got the email from Tulane, but I know they’re not in TEMS or anything,” one student said. “They sent it to their roommate who sent it to my friend … On and on.” The nature of this individual receiving the link directly from Tulane is unclear.

As of March 9, the link remains open and in circulation, and appointments can still be scheduled. According to Mike Strecker, executive director of public relations, appointments by ineligible individuals will be canceled. 

Anyone who receives a forwarded vaccine appointment link should discard it,” Strecker said. “All appointments for ineligible groups are being cancelled by Tulane’s clinic.”

However, this conflicts with student testimonies. At the clinic, a sign reading “Undergraduates not eligible (at this time)” hangs on the clinic wall. 

March 9, Governor John Bel Edwards announced an update for vaccine eligibility. All individuals 16 and older with pre-existing health conditions are now eligible for the vaccine. This news has come while Tulane’s vaccine supply is dwindling, and they are encouraging people to get the vaccine through a different provider.