SIU’s School of Dental Medicine first campus to receive COVID-19 vaccine

The first round of the Moderna vaccine was administered to the School of Dental Medicine’s faculty and staff on Jan. 12. 


“Around 230 or so people got vaccinated yesterday at the School of Dental Medicine in collaboration with Madison County Public Health because they are part of tier one,” COVID-19 Response Coordinator Michael Schultz said.


Bruce Rotter, Dean of the School of Dental Medicine, was the first to receive the vaccine on Tuesday at the Alton campus in their Science building. At SIUE, the vaccines are being prioritized to faculty and students within the medical fields and environmental services through the tier system.


The Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC gave a list of tiers that outlined eligibility of people who can receive the vaccine. Through those tiers, the School of Dental Medicine was able to determine their hygienists and dentists were eligible to receive the vaccine.


When all of tier one is vaccinated, the vaccination process will begin for the next tiers.


“Madison County and SIU Health Service staff both participated in that vaccine clinic,” Director of Health Services Riane Greenwalt said. 


SIU’s School of Dental Medicine is the only dental school outside of the Chicago area in Illinois. Around 300 students are enrolled in SIU’s dental school and they service nearly 35,000 patients every year at their patient clinic. Having access to the vaccine adds another layer of protection between the students and their patients.


Chair of Applied Dental Medicine Nathalia Garcia said the process of getting vaccinated couldn’t have been smoother. She said the students and faculty who were getting vaccinated were emailed a couple days before to set up online appointments for vaccination times. 


“I am very grateful,” Garcia said. “I think the entire School of Dental Medicine community is also grateful for this opportunity to receive the vaccine.”


Some people have voiced their concerns with the side effects that could come from getting the vaccine. After receiving her vaccine, Garcia said that the Moderna vaccine has minimal side effects and she is feeling well.


The Moderna vaccine consists of a two-dose vaccination. The second dose of the vaccine will be administered four weeks after the initial dose. 


Garcia said she is looking forward to getting past this pandemic, believing the vaccine is a step in the right direction.


“I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity. This step is fundamental to getting over this pandemic,” Garcia said. “Our School of Dental Medicine has been providing dental services to our community during this pandemic using the highest level of protection for the students, patients and staff.”


Greenwalt said the availability of more vaccinations for SIUE students and faculty is on the way. 


“On Tuesday the 19 we have a vaccine clinic on site, at the Edwardsville campus, and those too will also be 1A tiers,” Greenwalt said. “These are faculty, staff and students that are in clinical sites as well as people who do environmental services [who will have access to the vaccine].”


Those who fall under that tier have been offered an appointment to receive the vaccine. All vaccines are done on an appointment-only basis. Madison County is in charge of the appointment schedule and hands it off to Health Services. 

For more information on SIUE COVID-19 vaccines, email Greenwalt at

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