COVID-19 Vaccinations in Massachusetts
Jan. 29, 2021
Dear Brandeis Community,
There is intense interest across the country and within our community in the rollout of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. We all fervently hope that once sufficient numbers of people are vaccinated, we can return to something closer to our pre-pandemic levels of personal interaction.
Unfortunately, alongside this great hope has come confusion, delays and some disappointment, as vaccine rollout has been uneven, as questions of equity have arisen, and as our public health systems struggle to meet demand. States are individually determining the phasing of vaccination, and for those of us whose lives cross state lines - including many of our students - this adds additional confusion.
Below you will find information specific to Massachusetts’ phasing of vaccinations, including an illustration of the different phases, as well as how this information impacts Brandeis and our campus community members. You will note that the majority of our campus community is currently NOT eligible to receive vaccinations until Phase 3, which is estimated to begin in April. Again, this is a Massachusetts regulation: please understand that Brandeis is not able to help any member of our community get the vaccine earlier than the state will allow.
At Brandeis, our Public Health Advisory Committee, Health Center and others are carefully watching the state rollout, partnering with local health providers, and advocating for getting members of our community access to vaccinations as quickly as possible. Brandeis does not have any vaccine to provide at this time.
Also, please know that the Brandeis Student Health Center, per its scope and area of expertise, is not able to advise or assist faculty and staff in obtaining vaccinations. We ask that faculty and staff be respectful of our Health Center staff who have been inundated with vaccine-related calls that are interfering with their important work in student health.
We know it is frustrating that we don’t have all the answers related to vaccines. As Brandeis has done throughout the pandemic; we are committed to bringing you the latest information we have as soon as we have it, and we will continue to provide updates.
Senior Vice President, Communications, Marketing and External Relations
Massachusetts phases, and where we are at Brandeis
The state of Massachusetts established three phases for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Phase 1 (ongoing): Clinical and non-clinical health care workers doing direct COVID-facing AND non-COVID-facing care; long-term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities; emergency medical services, police, and fire; home-based health care workers. See Massachusetts’ COVID-19 website for a complete list.
Where we are at Brandeis: Our first-responders and medical personnel in Massachusetts’ Phase 1, which included students who serve in our BEMCO emergency medical corps and work in our testing centers, as well as eligible Health Center and Counseling Center employees and Public Safety personnel, received or scheduled their first vaccinations in mid-January. This was achieved through partnerships with the city of Waltham and with a local university designated by Massachusetts to vaccinate staff in Phase 1 at other local universities, including Brandeis.
Because Brandeis staff assisted with vaccination efforts, we were able to vaccinate eight additional Brandeis staff members to avoid wasting doses that would have been discarded. Those staff members were Student Affairs staff who support COVID-positive students.
- Phase 2 (Feb. 1 through the end of March): individuals age 75 and older at first, followed by individuals age 65 or older; individuals with 2 or more comorbidities putting them at increased risk of illness; other workers including preschool and K-12 teachers and workers (unfortunately, NOT higher education workers), grocery store workers, medical manufacturing workers and others: see the Massachusetts’ COVID-19 website for a complete list of Phase 2-eligible individuals.
Where we are at Brandeis: Massachusetts colleges and universities (outside of medical programs) have not been provided vaccines to administer to faculty, staff or students. The first few days of Massachusetts’ signups for vaccination slots for those 75 and older have been rocky; the technical problems that many people are experiencing (illustrated in this Boston Globe story) will likely abate in the coming days and weeks. Faculty and staff who are 75 and older are encouraged to work through the state’s website to sign up when they can, or to consult with their primary care practitioners. We urge anyone who may be eligible later in Phase 2 to keep checking the Massachusetts vaccine website for news about when they can sign up.
- Phase 3 (Currently slated to begin in April) The vaccine will be made available to the general public, with Massachusetts specifically identifying “higher education workers, including administrators, teaching and non-teaching staff.”
Where we are at Brandeis: Brandeis is exploring all avenues to help students access the vaccine as soon as possible. We are partnering with local health care providers who are setting up vaccination sites; we are paying close attention to the ever-changing state regulations. We encourage faculty and staff to continue to pay close attention to availability in Massachusetts, and to information from their local boards of health.
The infographics below from the state of Massachusetts further illustrate its current vaccination plans.
Students who were already vaccinated out-of-state Some states have made different public health decisions than Massachusetts and have made the vaccine available to younger populations sooner. If you are a student who has received one dose of the vaccine, you may request a travel exception from the Dean of Students Office to return to your home state to receive your scheduled second dose, and you must follow Massachusetts travel regulations when returning to Waltham.
All Brandeis’ health requirements still apply to those who are vaccinated It’s important to know that people who are vaccinated take time to develop immunity, and can still transmit COVID-19 to others. Even if you have been vaccinated, you must continue to:
- Wear a mask at all times while on the Brandeis campus, unless you are alone in an office with the door closed or alone in your residence hall.
- Continue to be tested for COVID-19 according to the schedule in your Campus Passport (no vaccine is 100-percent effective).
- Follow all other university distancing and other health and safety guidelines.
- Show your Campus Passport when accessing campus facilities, and follow instructions within your passport.
Will Brandeis make the COVID vaccine mandatory? At this time, the vaccine is approved under an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; as such, no employer or university can require that employees or students get the vaccine at this time.