Note: This letter originally appeared as an email sent to the Hopkins community on August 19, 2021.
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff:
Keeping our community safe and healthy remains our foremost priority as we all continue to navigate the pandemic together. The overwhelming majority of you have taken the most important step in that effort by getting vaccinated against the virus. Ninety-five percent of faculty and 92 percent of staff have submitted documentation that they have been fully vaccinated; data on students will be forthcoming once they have returned to campus.
On top of the protection afforded by our high vaccination rates, we are making two adjustments in our protocols at this time based on the latest research and case trends, which show a surge in the delta varient in recent weeks. We are limiting allowable vaccines to those that are FDA-approved and developing plans to increase COVID-19 testing.
As a reminder, our plans for the fall include a universitywide mandate for COVID vaccinations, twice weekly COVID testing and masking for those who have approved vaccination exceptions, weekly COVID testing for vaccinated residential undergraduate students, limitations on the size of in-person classes and events, and heightened ventilation and air filtration. In the last several weeks, we have also instituted a universal indoor face-covering requirement.
Together, these measures offer strong protection against the spread of COVID within and by our community and allow us to return to campus as planned. However, there are recent reports that certain vaccines may be less effective against the delta variant. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution and based on the recommendations of our Health Advisory Group, we are instituting the following changes in our campus operations.
1. Only FDA-authorized COVID vaccines will be accepted. These three vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, J&J/Janssen) have all shown effectiveness against known variants. Any individuals who have not received one of these vaccines must be revaccinated with a full course of one of these vaccines upon arrival, that is two doses, properly spaced, for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, and one for J&J/Janssen.
Previously, we allowed any vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization, but given growing data about the potential for lower effectiveness against delta, we are now mandating revaccination for those who have received non-FDA-approved vaccines. The university will assist students if they need help, and vaccination information is on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website.
Individuals who have uploaded to the Vaccine Management System documentation of vaccination with Oxford/AstraZeneca, Covishield, Novavax, Sinopharm, or Sinovac will be contacted and asked to schedule an appointment to receive one of the FDA-authorized vaccines. You must complete your vaccinations and upload documentation to the Vaccination Management System (VMS) by Oct. 8. Your prior submission will be removed so that you can upload new documentation after your final dose. You may not upload documentation until that point. In the meantime, you will be allowed to come on campus, but you will be required to follow the same masking and testing requirements (twice weekly) as those with vaccination exceptions until you are fully vaccinated (two weeks after your final dose).
2. Asymptomatic COVID testing will be expanded. Our current policy requires anyone on-campus who has an approved vaccination exception to be tested twice a week. Further, all vaccinated residential undergraduates are required to be tested once a week. To facilitate early detection of any COVID outbreaks within our community, we are developing plans to expand mandatory asymptomatic testing, and we expect to provide details in the coming days.
Asymptomatic COVID testing will remain available on a voluntary basis for all students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff. Details on testing locations are on the JHU coronavirus information website. Anyone who exhibits COVID symptoms is directed to call the Johns Hopkins COVID Call Center (JHCCC) at 443-287-8500, seven days a week, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The JCCC will arrange for testing if needed and assist in transmitting information to Occupational Health or Student Affairs.
The School of Medicine continues to follow Johns Hopkins Medicine policies for vaccination. APL has its own policies for individuals on its property but for APL staff members who work, teach or attend classes at other JHU or JHM campuses, the mandates for each campus apply and can supersede APL guidelines.
As always, we are closely monitoring conditions, and both Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine are evaluating additional precautions to further protect our community and our neighbors. We will keep you updated on any changes to our protocols. Thank you for maintaining proper COVID safety practices throughout the pandemic and assisting us with preparing for a productive, rewarding, and healthy fall semester.
Stay safe and be well,
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Professor, Vice Provost, and Chief Risk Officer
Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer