Expanded COVID vaccine eligibility in Maryland

| March 31, 2021
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Note: This letter originally appeared as an email sent to the Hopkins community on March 30, 2021.

Dear Johns Hopkins Community,

Thanks to increasing supplies of COVID vaccines, Gov. Larry Hogan has announced plans to further expand vaccination eligibility. We know that many of you are eager to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and we want to provide as much information as we can about the vaccines and the vaccination process.

Who is eligible now? 

On March 23, all those age 60 and over became eligible to register for COVID vaccination. This is in addition to those who were previously eligible, including all those age 65 and over, immune-compromised patients receiving hospital-based care, health care workers, educators, and others.

A full list of eligibility criteria is available here and includes “higher education institutional frontline workers with potential contact with students living in residence halls (congregate living), facilities maintenance, dining hall, and campus police” as well as faculty, postdocs, and graduate students teaching in person in classrooms or labs. Working with the divisions, we have submitted a list of faculty and staff who meet those criteria to Johns Hopkins Medicine, which is working to schedule those individuals for vaccination through MyChart as supplies of the vaccine become available.

Those who fit these criteria are strongly encouraged to also pursue vaccination elsewhere, as the vaccine allotment JHM receives from the state is still quite limited and varies week to week. More information about the state’s vaccination program, including eligibility information, is available here.

How and when will vaccine eligibility be expanded further? 

Today, Maryland expands eligibility to include everyone over age 16 who has a health condition that puts them at greater risk if they contract COVID. By April 13, all those age 55 and over will be eligible for the vaccine, along with essential workers in a variety of additional industries “including food services (i.e. restaurant workers), utilities, construction workers, transportation, financial services, IT, and other infrastructure.” By April 27, all those over age 16 will be eligible in Maryland.

Will JHU require the COVID vaccine for faculty, staff, or students? 

We do not currently require a COVID vaccination, but we may do so in the future depending on evolving ethical, legal, and public health considerations. In the meantime, we are developing a system for JHU affiliates to voluntarily report their vaccination status to help inform our decision making for return to campus. We therefore urge you to keep your documentation if and when you are vaccinated. 

Will Johns Hopkins vaccinate me? 

JHM is authorized to vaccinate eligible JHU affiliates but has received only a very limited supply of the vaccine, subject to prioritization set by the state and local public health entities. To date, JHM has administered more than 59,000 doses of the vaccines to health care workers in Maryland and nearly 86,000 to patients and members of the general public in the state.

We continue to urge those who are or become eligible for the vaccine to register at as many places as possible, including the state’s mass vaccination sites, other local health care providers, retail pharmacies, local health departments, and primary care physicians’ offices. The university is also exploring possible partnerships with outside vendors to help make it easier for our affiliates to get vaccinated in the future. For now, however, even if you have been notified that you are in the pool for possible vaccination through JHM, the best advice remains to take an active approach to securing a vaccination appointment anywhere you can as soon as you are eligible.

How do I register for the vaccine? 

The state has created a portal to register for the vaccine through its mass vaccination sites, but you still need to register individually with all other providers (health care systems, pharmacies, health departments, etc.). You can find a list of vaccination sites near you here.

I’m a student from out of state. Will I be able to get vaccinated in Maryland? 

Yes. The state does not impose a residency requirement for vaccination.

What if the only vaccine appointment I can get is during my regular work hours? 

JHU full-time and part-time faculty, staff, and bargaining unit employees may use up to two days of paid leave to get the COVID-19 vaccine and/or to recuperate from vaccine side effects. For more information, go to the HR Novel Coronavirus webpage.

Where can I learn more about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness? 

We have a tremendous amount of information and support available for those who have questions about the vaccine or want to learn more. JHM has compiled a set of resources on the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety and what to expect when getting vaccinated. JHU’s Coronavirus Resource Center has extensive information about how the vaccines were developed and tested, as well as data on their distribution in the U.S. and internationally.

Once I’ve been vaccinated, do I have to continue wearing a mask or maintaining social distance? 

Even though the vaccine is becoming more readily available, and more people are vaccinated every day, it will be some time before we reach the level of immunity necessary to relax other public health measures imposed as a result of the pandemic. That means that all of the essential public health requirements for preventing the spread of COVID, including mask wearing, physical distancing, gathering limits, health attestation, and others, remain in effect—even if you have already been vaccinated.  

We have great hope that mass vaccination will help us return to normal life, but the most important thing now is for us all not to let down our guard too early. Please continue to follow the tenets of the Johns Hopkins Social Compact and to remember that we all need to work together to keep our community and our neighbors safe.

Stephen Gange
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Jon Links
Professor, Vice Provost, and Chief Risk and Compliance Officer

Lainie Rutkow
Professor and Senior Adviser to the President for Strategic Initiatives