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Vaccine Policies

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Vaccine Policy Team

  • Katy Dye, Associate Professor of Biology
  • Pauline Engelstatter, Vice President of University Affairs
  • Levi Esses, Dean of Students
  • Kristin Hurley, Director of Human Resources
  • Donna Klinger, Director of Public Relations and Communications
  • Fr. Diego Ruiz, Seminary Administration
  • Kraig Sheetz, Executive Vice President
  • Will Wood, Environmental Safety Officer
  • Jeffrey Simmons, Team Leader, ASPIRE Office

Vaccine Policy Team Charge

Purpose

The Vaccine Policy Team's (VPT) purpose is to develop and recommend policies for COVID-19 vaccination for Spring, Summer and Fall 2021 by February 19.

Approach

The Team started by defining the end goal and making future projections about vaccine availability. Options were discussed by weighing the pros and cons. Because no other institutions are vaccinated yet, we had no external peers with which to compare. We achieved consensus on the final recommendations.

The Mount Safe Guiding Principles

  • First and foremost is the health and safety of our community. Decisions will be informed by guidance from federal and state public health authorities.
  • We will emphasize student success as we fulfill our Mount mission.
  • We will be flexible in responding to the uncertainty caused by this pandemic.
  • We will treat our students and employees with respect emphasizing empathy and compassion as they re-socialize physically into the Mount community.
  • We will steward our financial resources to ensure the university’s strength and stability for the long term.

The Goal

The Mount’s goal is at least 80% immune individuals in the Emmitsburg campus community, which includes traditional undergraduates, seminarians and employees. Immune individuals are those who have earned immunity (recovered from COVID-19) and those who have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

  • The CDC has not announced an official target for immunizations. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other scientists estimate it should be between 70 and 90% of the population in order to achieve herd immunity. Our goal falls within that range.
  • At 80% or greater, the risk of transmission and outbreaks should be low (but not zero), so the number of cases we will need to manage will be much lower.
  • It is likely that the surrounding communities will not achieve 80% immunity as quickly as the Mount; therefore, we may need to continue to limit travel and visitors throughout 2021.
  • There are no intermediate milestones between 0 and 80% immunity. We need to achieve 80% in order to realize a significant reduction in transmission.

Planning Assumptions

Based on information currently available, we made the following assumptions about vaccine availability:

  1. Mount employees who qualify for Phase 1B will be able to complete their two-dose vaccinations by the end of March 2021.
  2. Mount employees who qualify for Phase 1C will be able to complete their two-dose vaccinations by the end of April 2021.
  3. Mount students who qualify for Phase 2 or 3 will be able to complete their two-dose vaccinations by the end of June 2021.

Based on this projected timeline, we draw the following conclusions:

  1. By the end of the Spring term, Mount employees will be vaccinated but it is unlikely that students will be vaccinated; therefore, we will not achieve 80% immunity in the Mount community during the Spring term.
  2. It is likely that students will be able to complete their two-dose vaccinations before the start of the Fall 2021 semester. We should be able to require students to be vaccinated (with medical and sincerely held religious exemptions) starting Fall 2021.
  3. During the summer, resident students and student workers will be in the process of being vaccinated.
  4. Mask wearing, physical distancing, and other risk reduction measures will need to continue at least through the summer of 2021.

Vaccine Policies

The following policies are based on known information about the effectiveness and potential side effects of the vaccines available now and public health recommendations. We will adjust these policies as needed as public health professionals learn more about the vaccines and update their recommendations. Policies will go into effect on 2/10/2021 and remain in effect until rescinded by the President.

In order to stop the spread of COVID-19 within the Mount community, we are aiming to achieve 80% immunity by the start of the Fall 2021 semester. The only way to stop COVID-19 is by increasing the immunity of the campus population above the threshold for “herd immunity.” As with mask wearing, vaccinating yourself protects others as much as it does you.

Employees

To achieve our goal of at least 80% immunity within our community, Mount employees are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them.

Our first Guiding Principle states, “First and foremost is the health and safety of our community” and vaccinating is the best way to improve our community’s health and safety. Furthermore, under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “general duty” clause, Mount St. Mary’s University is required to furnish each employee with a workplace free from recognized hazards that could cause serious harm.

Employees should inform Human Resources of their vaccination after their second dose by providing a copy of their completed vaccination record or entering the information into the designated section of their Workday record. This information will be kept confidential.

  • Procedure: To sign up to receive the vaccine, employees should pre-register with the Frederick County Health Department Vaccine Clinic or with some other health provider, including health departments where you live, hospitals and pharmacies.
  • Based on information known now, there are potential side effects from the first and second dose of the vaccine that may inhibit employees from working the day after receiving a dose of the vaccine. The university will provide additional paid leave days for any non-exempt employee who is either ineligible for sick leave (newly hired) or who has depleted their leave bank for other approved reasons.
  • Vaccine Card Upload Instructions – Employees can follow these instructions to upload their CDC vaccine cards to Workday OR they can drop off a copy of their vaccine card to HR or send by email (humanresources@msmary.edu) or secure fax (301) 447-5864.

Undergraduate Students and Seminarians – Main Campus

To achieve our goal of at least 80% immunity within our community, undergraduate students who will be taking classes at the Emmitsburg campus in Fall 2021 and seminarians are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before coming to campus in August 2021. Medical and sincerely held religious belief exceptions are allowed but must be documented and approved in advance. Procedures for requesting these exceptions will be published soon. Students must submit a record of their vaccination to the Health Center before returning to campus and no later than August 18, 2021. This information will be kept confidential.

Graduate Students and Continuing Education Students – Frederick Campus

To achieve our goal of at least 80% immunity within our community, graduate students and undergraduate students in the Continuing Education program who will be taking classes solely at the Frederick campus in Fall 2021 and beyond are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them and no later than August 18, 2021. Students must submit a record of their vaccination to the Health Center. This information will be kept confidential.

Visitors to Campus

The Visitor Policy of 6 August 2020 will remain in effect throughout 2021. In brief, this includes the following requirements:

  1. Only visitors with official university business are permitted on university campuses.
  2. Visitors are not allowed on campus if they are confirmed or suspected to have COVID within the last 10 days.
  3. Visitors with official business must register upon arrival.
  4. Visitors with official business must abide by the Mount Safe practices while on campus.
  5. Employees and students are required to register their invited visitors with Public Safety using the online Invited Visitor form.

Communication Plan

If we are to achieve our 80% goal, we will need to actively promote the importance and benefits of vaccination, starting immediately, through social media, posters and digital messaging around campus, the Mount Safe Initiative Update and president’s weekly email, digital signage and posters and other avenues. A small group, including Donna Klinger, has formed to generate content. Frequently asked questions have been posted on the website and will be updated as needed.