| by Derek Doucet
This week marked a milestone in our pandemic journey, as we have begun our on campus vaccination efforts in partnership with the Vermont Department of Health. Today’s DOS update will focus on upcoming vaccination opportunities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) interim guidance for vaccinated people, information on the Wellness House, and more.
On-Campus Vaccination Clinic Next Week
The Vermont Department of Health, Walgreens Pharmacy, and the College are partnering to offer a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on campus Tuesday, May 4. The clinic, which will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will be open to all residents of Vermont age 18 and older, including faculty, staff, and students (including those whose permanent residence is outside of Vermont).
Registration through the state registration system is required to receive a vaccination at this clinic. The link for registration was listed on the state website as of this morning. There will be about 500 doses available. Because the J&J vaccine only requires one dose, no follow-up visit is needed, although individuals will not be considered to be fully vaccinated until two weeks after the shot.
The J&J vaccine has been approved again for use in all individuals over 18 years old, but the CDC advises that women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare but increased risk of an adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen. While this risk is small, anyone who is concerned could pursue other vaccination opportunities. Middlebury continues to strongly encourage and facilitate vaccination opportunities for all members of our community.
CDC Face Covering Guidance
The CDC unveiled Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People on Monday, which included guidance stating that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face covering outdoors, except in certain crowded settings and venues. While this advice is an encouraging glimpse of what our future will look like, our campus community remains largely unvaccinated. Therefore, we do not plan to make any major changes in protocols for the remainder of the semester. The Vermont Department of Health and other Vermont college health officials have concluded that Vermont colleges should continue to follow the Vermont Forward Roadmap to Reopening. This guidance states that masks and physical distancing are required when in the presence of those outside your household. In the case of Middlebury students, this means your designated close contacts.
Given case counts on campus and diminishing local prevalence of COVID-19, we anticipate transitioning to testing each student every other week. Watch for emails from COVIDtesting@middlebury.edu about what week and day you’re scheduled to come to testing. You should also monitor the Testing Schedule webpage in case changes must be made in response to evolving conditions. As always, please remember that attendance at testing is mandatory and unexcused absences will be considered COVID-19 conduct violations.
Fall 2021 Wellness House Applications Open
Applications are now being accepted for Wellness House for Fall 2021. The house is a wellbeing focused, substance free community located in Homestead House supported by the Office of Health and Wellness Education. Members are expected not to use substances while they live in the house. There has been an increase in interest in sobriety among students who identify as low-use both from current house members and from a developing group that’s part of the first-year Student Government Association committee. Apply at Go/wellnesshouseapplication.
Campus Status Webpage
This week’s rain aside, spring is here! Outdoor pursuits, led by trained leaders and supervised and approved in advance by Middlebury Outdoor Programs, including overnight camping within Addison County, are permitted. Go/outdoors to see what is being offered.
Open Office Hours with Jen, Mark, and Derek
We want to hear your feedback and answer your questions! Join Director of Environmental Health and Safety Jen Kazmierczak, Chief Health Officer and College Physician Mark Peluso, and me at our weekly open office hours, Friday, April 30, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Go to this Zoom link. You can submit questions in advance.
Dean of Students