COVID-19 Updates and Flu Vaccines
| by Mark Peluso and Smita Ruzicka
Dear Middlebury Community,
We are writing with some updates about the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, post-break testing for students, booster shots, and other topics.
In this email we will address:
- State of the State
- Expansion of COVID-19 Booster Shot Eligibility
- Post-Break Testing Opportunities for Students
- Off-Campus Testing Opportunities for Employees
- Weekly COVID-19 Office Hours
- Food at College Events
- Tips on Finding the Right Face Covering
- Flu Vaccine Clinics for Faculty and Staff
State of the State
Governor Phil Scott and state officials announced at their Tuesday press briefing that cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in Vermont, up 10 percent from the previous seven days, and 39 percent over the last 14 days. Cases in New England are decreasing in Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts, but increasing or staying the same in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. There were 63 COVID-19 cases in higher education last week. As of this week 89.2 percent of all eligible Vermonters have begun the vaccination process. About 70.6 percent are fully vaccinated.
The governor and his team stressed the need for personal responsibility in continuing protective behaviors in addition to vaccination. Specifically, he urged Vermonters to do the following:
- Wear a well-fitted face covering when indoors or outdoors in a crowded setting.
- Stay home if sick, and get tested even if you have mild symptoms, regardless of vaccination status. The Vermont Department of Health website has more information on this.
- Avoid large gatherings or spending time indoors where many people are not wearing face coverings.
- Get tested before traveling to see friends or loved ones, regardless of vaccination status.
- If unvaccinated, wear a face covering around those you are visiting.
- Get a flu shot.
- Practice good hand hygiene.
Expansion of COVID-19 Booster Shot Eligibility
There are several new developments with COVID-19 booster shots. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week approved boosters for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Pfizer was previously approved.
As of this morning, the state of Vermont has opened booster registration for all three vaccines. Pharmacies and health care providers also will offer booster shots of any of the three vaccines to individuals 18 and older who wish to have a booster dose with a brand other than the one they initially received. The state will open registration for that option on November 1. More details about eligibility are available in this Thursday press release. Note that individuals who are age 18 or older and live or work in higher education settings including Middlebury College are eligible.
Post-Break Testing Opportunities for Students
We continue to offer after-travel testing appointments for students every day this week and Monday, October 25, in the Virtue Field House lobby. About 200 appointments will be available each day, and the testing center will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students may sign up using the Bookings link. Please note: These appointments are for students only and are not open to faculty and staff.
Off-Campus Testing Opportunities for Employees
Employees have several options for testing off campus. Here are a few of them:
- Create an account and sign up for COVID-19 testing at a Vermont Department of Health testing site in Middlebury or other locations statewide. (This is not necessary if you made a testing or vaccination appointment in the past).
- Porter Medical Center offers testing by appointment only at the Ambulatory Respiratory Clinic, on the main campus, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Call 802-388-8865 to schedule your appointment.
- Testing is available through most major pharmacies in Vermont, including Kinney Drugs, Walgreens, CVS, and others.
- Garnet offers same-day PCR and Antigen testing in South Burlington.
Weekly COVID-19 Office Hours
Please join us between 11:30 a.m. and noon EST each Wednesday for weekly COVID-19 office hours. Experts who have been monitoring and managing the COVID-19 pandemic response will be available to answer your questions. Click the Zoom link to join.
This is an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic, including current guidelines, and the latest developments worldwide and locally.
Food at College Events
We have received many questions about College events and possibilities for enjoying food in fellowship. At this time, aside from regular dining in the dining halls as part of everyday student life, we do not recommend food at indoor events. This is to minimize possible exposures or transmission, as eating and drinking requires the removal of face coverings.
Tips on Finding the Right Face Covering
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer tips on finding the best and most effective mask. In general, the best mask is the one that fits you best and has more than one layer and a nose bridge.
Flu Vaccine Clinics for Faculty and Staff
Flu vaccine clinics continue to be offered on both the Vermont and California campuses, and shots also are widely available at local pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death, and minimize symptoms. Getting a flu vaccine can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.
For a list of Cigna in-network pharmacies click here. Staying in-network for your vaccine will ensure that your vaccine is covered, and that you won’t incur unexpected costs.
Vermont campus: Free for all faculty and staff. Due to strict COVID-19 protocols, vaccinations will be by appointment only. Please use the Flu Clinic Appointment Scheduler to reserve your appointment, and bring a completed consent form. Be sure to review the Vaccine Information Sheet and ACHHH Notice of Privacy Practices ahead of time.
Clinics will be offered at the following times and locations:
- October 25: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tormondsen Great Hall, McCardell Bicentennial Hall
- October 27: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Abernathy Room, Axinn Center
Students will be notified in a separate message about upcoming flu vaccine clinics on campus.
Thank you for your attention to these updates. As always, you can find the latest information on the Campus Status webpage.
Chief Health Officer and College Physician
Vice President for Student Affairs