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COVID-19 Vaccine Policies

Why Are You Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The Vaccine Policy Team recommended and President Trainor approved policies on February 10, 2021, regarding COVID-19 vaccination of the Mount community. In its deliberations, the team prioritized the health and safety of the Mount community and student success. The decision to require students who will be on the Emmitsburg campus to be vaccinated prior to the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester was made in the interests of the health and safety of the Mount community and to best ensure a return to a near normal campus in the fall where students learn, live, worship, eat, play sports, volunteer and participate in clubs face to face. Students may apply for exemption for medical reasons or strongly held religious beliefs.

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 Policies will go into effect on 2/10/2021 and remain in effect until rescinded by the President.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. The deadline to submit an exemption request for medical or sincerely held religious beliefs has now passed.

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.

 

FAQs

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

  • All vaccines approved for widespread use are required to undergo extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration or recommended for widespread use.
  • Tthe Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, both two-dose mRNA vaccines, and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen viral vector vaccine have been studied in multiple clinical trials, each of which has included thousands of individuals who were followed for a minimum of two months. Decades of experience with other vaccines indicate that most adverse reactions occur within the first two months of vaccination.
  • While these vaccines were developed quickly, all safety testing phases were completed, and the vaccines were shown to be highly effective in preventing serious illness.
  • The most common side effects are a sore arm, fatigue, headache and a low-grade fever that lasts for 24 to 48 hours. This side effects are a sign that the body is building immunity.
  • People who have had severe allergic reactions to other vaccines or injectable therapies should not get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • More than 350 million doses have been administered in the United States, with the vast majority of people experiencing minor or no side effects.

Why should I get vaccinated?

  • Vaccination gives us the best chance of a near-normal campus  in the fall where students learn, live, worship, eat, play sports, volunteer and participate in clubs face to face. 
  • Vaccination helps to protect us and those around us from COVID-19.
  • Clinical trials show the vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness.
  • Vaccines are the path forward to ending the pandemic.
  • Most of the participants in clinical trials and early recipients of the vaccine have had minimal side effects.

Why are there differentiated vaccination policies? Students who will be on the Emmitsburg campus in Fall 2021 are required to be vaccinated, but employees and students in Frederick are strongly encouraged to do so.

The differentiated policies for students and employees consider the fact that students live communally and therefore are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than employees who leave to go home and can choose to remain physically distant.

How do I request an exemption from the vaccination mandate for Emmitsburg students?

For students who would like to request an exemption, the forms for medical and sincerely held religious beliefs exemptions are available in MyMount. To locate the forms, students should click on the Student Forms tab at the top of the page, look for the COVID-19 Related Forms section at the bottom of the page, and then click on Vaccine Exemption Forms. A committee will review the request and inform you of its decision. NOTE: The deadline to file an exemption request has passed.

Has the Catholic Church provided guidance on COVID-19 vaccination?

  • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on December 14 that although the vaccines have some connection to cell lines connected to aborted fetuses, their use is morally justifiable in consideration of present circumstances. These circumstances are there is no vaccine that has absolutely no connection to abortion, the serious risk to public health and, most importantly, the need to protect the most vulnerable from the disease.
  • The Bishops' statement says: “The lack of available alternative vaccines, and the fact that the connection between an abortion that occurred decades ago and receiving a vaccine produced today is remote, inoculation with the new COVID-19 vaccines in these circumstances can be morally justified.”
  • The Vatican issued a statement on December 21 that “it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses” in the research and production process when “ethically irreproachable” vaccines aren’t available to the public. The statement stressed that the “licit” uses of such vaccines “does not and should not in any way imply that there is a moral endorsement of the use of cell lines proceeding from aborted fetuses.”
  • Some American bishops have questioned the use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, which they have labeled as morally compromised because cells from aborted fetuses are used in production to grow the vaccines. The Vatican and the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Doctrine have said that any of the vaccines approved as clinically safe and effective "can be used in good moral conscience." On March 4, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who leads the Committee on Doctrine said, "There's no moral reason to turn down a vaccine, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is morally acceptable to use."

Will things return to "normal" once people on campus are vaccinated?

The vast majority of classes will be in person in Fall 2021. Due to the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the substantial community transmission rate in Fredereick County, as of August 4, the Mount is instituting several prevention strategies to mitigate risk. Given that students and seminarians are returning to campus from many states and locations around the world with varying levels of COVID cases, and there are rising case rates in Frederick County and Maryland, we are mandating that everyone must wear a face mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. This policy will be reviewed periodically based on our Mount community COVID case rates and available public health information. Other risk reduction measures include surveillance testing of all students, seminarians and employees who are not fully vaccinated; handwashing and transmission etiquette; and isolation and contact tracing for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.