Doctors and nurses administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Big House Thursday afternoon. (Madeline Hinkley/Daily)

As all Michigan adults above the age of 16 became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine April 5, members of Michigan Athletics found themselves among the crowd of Michiganders receiving their first shot. 

In fact, according to Rick Fitzgerald, director of Public Affairs at the University of Michigan, about 540 Wolverine student-athletes and athletics staff received their first dose of the Pfizer Vaccine on April 5 and 6.

These 540 student-athletes and staff took a significant step toward safety courtesy of Kroger Supermarkets. The national pharmacy chain offered Michigan Athletics 1000 doses of the Pfizer Vaccine on April 3, enough to vaccinate part of Michigan Athletics as well as other members of the U-M community.

“It was essentially something that dropped in our lap, that we then turned over to campus colleagues, including (University Health Services) and the campus COVID response team,” Athletics communication director Kurt Svoboda told The Daily on April 6. “And over a couple of days we worked with them to find a suitable location to host the clinic and extend opportunities for appointments to other parts of the U-M community.”

Of the remaining 460 doses, the vast majority were administered to members of various groups on campus, including but not limited to the Michigan Marching Band, Michigan Adaptive Sports Program and University Housing.

Of those 1000 doses received by Michigan Athletics, 978 were administered, with each campus community member receiving their shot from Michigan Medicine staff in the Indoor Training Center located on the Stephen M. Ross Athletics Campus. 

This partnership between Michigan Athletics and Kroger was the first step in vaccinating members of the program who were not eligible prior to April 5. And while it was geared toward vaccinating student-athletes and connected staff, it is among the many partnerships providing vaccines to members of the University community.

In making a final note, Svoboda succinctly explained the partnership’s sudden development:

“I don’t know how the pieces came together when doses were determined to become available,” Svoboda said. “But, from our perspective, it was ‘Hey, everybody in the state of Michigan is now eligible for this.’ These doses were provided to us. This is a good thing.”