COVID Vaccine

Please review the below list of frequently asked questions about the COVID vaccine requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions -  COVID Vaccine

 

You should upload proof of vaccine to your Student Health Portal. Visit washcoll.studenthealthportal.com and log in with your Washington College SSO. From there, follow the instructions to upload the vaccine card. Please note that if you have already submitted a copy of your vaccine card to Health Services then you do NOT need to re-submit that documentation through the Student Health Portal.

 

Thank you for submitting that documentation already! Since you already sent it in, you do NOT need to also upload that to your Student Health Portal,

Currently the vaccine supply is outpacing demand, which means that vaccine appointments are relatively simple to secure in the United States. In Maryland you can choose from a number of mass vaccination sites – visit this website for more information: https://massvax.maryland.gov/. If you live outside of Maryland, we suggest you check your state’s COVID website or your local Health Department site for more information on what mass vaccination clinics are available to you.

Additionally, most pharmacy retailers (Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens) as well as grocery stores now have vaccine supplies. Visit their websites for more information and to schedule an appointment.

Locally, Chester River Pharmacy is offering the vaccine, so for any students who live in the Chestertown area and still need to get vaccinated, this is still a good option.

If you live outside of the United States and have questions about getting vaccinated, please check your local government’s resources or work with Health Services.

Yes, Washington College will comply with all federal and state laws around exemptions for medical or religious reasons. The exemption request form must be completed and uploaded to the Student Health Portal. 

Once an exemption request has been submitted to Health Services, it will go through a formal review process. That process include:

  • Formal review by a committee
  • Committee decision is communicated in writing using the original request form, and sent back to the student
  • All decisions are final

If you are not yet vaccinated, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible. Please keep in mind that for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, two doses are required at either 21 (Pfizer) or 28 (Moderna) days apart. The 1-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is again being administered so is also an option. With all of these vaccines, you reach full immunity approximately two weeks afterwards, and in the cases of Pfizer and Moderna that means two weeks after the second dose. 

With campus arrivals for student-athletes beginning around early August, every student should be vaccinated by early August at the latest.

From a general public health perspective, we continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as this is the best way for us to collectively put an end to the pandemic.

Additionally please note that the Moderna vaccine is available for those 18 and up, so if you are approaching your 18th birthday you may also want to factor that into your planning.

We don’t yet know, but it is possible that booster shots will be required to provide continued protection against the COVID-19 virus in the months (and years) ahead. We expect it may be similar to the flu shot, which is currently administered annually. We will continue to keep you informed as the vaccine providers and the CDC make these announcements.

Currently the vaccine supply outpaces demand in the United States, so any US students should very easily be able to secure an appointment to get vaccinated before the start of the fall semester. For international students, if you can get it at home, you should. If you have questions about whether or not the vaccine available to you meets the College’s requirement, please contact Health Services at Health_Services@washcoll.edu. If you are living outside the United States and are unable to get vaccinated due to limited supply or another reason, we will certainly work you to help secure a vaccine appointment for you upon your arrival to campus – please work with Health Services on this. In this case, you should expect to go through a quarantine period once you arrive on campus.  Further details will be communicated with you directly from the Health Services team.

We can first share that the large majority of our faculty and staff have already voluntarily received the vaccine. We have good data on this because we have requested that they share their documentation with us, and also because we were fortunate enough to work with the Kent County Health Department on several closed vaccine clinics.  We know from that effort who took advantage of the vaccination option for each clinic.

The primary difference between these groups is that our students are living together in a congregate setting. This is where we feel the primary risk is. Staff and faculty can more easily avoid prolonged contact with others; students don’t always have that luxury.

We generally always have a small number of students who live on campus, or at least attend classes, who cannot get certain required vaccines due to medical contraindications. This will remain the same for the COVID vaccine. The vaccine mandate ensures though that we will reach the necessary threshold for herd immunity (85% overall vaccination rate).

Unvaccinated students will be required to participate in a more rigorous COVID testing program in order to live on campus. Unvaccinated students who are exposed to COVID through close contact will also be required to complete a full quarantine whereas vaccinated students will not. To see the full details on quarantine and testing requirements for Fall, please see our Fall 2021 COVID Guidelines.

The general COVID Code of Conduct will remain the same for both groups in that we will not single out non-vaccinated students.  For example, we won’t require that they wear a mask in a situation where a mask mandate in no longer in effect. We will not bar non-vaccinated students from spending time in lounges or other common spaces, or sit in a different seating area in the Dining Hall.

The most notable differences for non-vaccinated students are going to be around the COVID testing program and quarantine requirements in the event of an exposure. Non-vaccinated students will be required to participate in a weekly surveillance testing program. They will also be required to do a full quarantine (7-10 days) in the event they have an exposure and/or are identified as a close contact with someone who tests positive. Vaccinated students will not have to participate in surveillance testing.  If they are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID case, they will not be required to quarantine.

We will also strongly encourage non-vaccinated students to voluntarily take additional precautions to further protect them from getting the virus. Since those who are vaccinated can still get – and transmit – the virus, it will be in any unvaccinated student’s best interest to opt into more stringent safety measures to limit their risks.

An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a mechanism that is in place to facilitate availability and use of medical countermeasures – such as vaccines – during public health emergencies.  An EUA essentially means that circumstances exist to use the vaccine without having all of the evidence that the FDA would typically require before approving it. The FDA still released guidance explaining specific conditions that needed to be met before any COVID vaccines would be granted an EUA. That included at least a 50% reduction in coronavirus infections. While the same proof of efficacy is not required under an EUA, it does not mean that the vaccine is untested or unproven. It is instead a reasonable balance of risks and benefits during a public health emergency.

Additionally, we have seen through the example of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause that these vaccines are still under careful review and evaluation for any potential harmful side effects. The agencies charged with approving these are treating the EUA seriously and are carefully monitoring things. The science and the data though continue to tell us that any slight risks from the vaccine are far outweighed by the benefits.

As of June, more than 177 million people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, and CDC continues to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for any health problems that happen after vaccination. The CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 12 years of age and older, given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death. If you have already gotten the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, it’s important to get the second dose unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get it.

The known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. Also, most patients with myocarditis and pericarditis who received care responded well to treatment and rest and quickly felt better.

If you have concerns about COVID-19 vaccination, talk with your primary care provider.

Non-vaccinated students will be required to enroll in either weekly surveillance testing. Vaccinated students will not have this same requirement. All enrolled students are required to undergo gateway testing.

We are still finalizing these details, following updated CDC guidance around mask-wearing, distancing requirements, etc. We can tell you that some policies will still apply, but that overall the COVID Code of Conduct will be recalibrated to reflect the fact that our students are vaccinated. You can also expect some protocols to be significantly relaxed, particularly as it relates to outdoor activities.

The flu vaccine is on our recommended vaccine list, but will not be required. We took the extra step of requiring that for the Spring 2021 semester because at the start of the semester the COVID vaccine was not yet widely available and we were concerned about seeing both COVID and flu outbreaks on campus at the same time. We do strongly recommend flu shots for everyone in our community and will typically host a flu shot clinic on campus in order to make it easy for students to get that additional vaccine.