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COVID-19 Vaccine Update

January 25, 2021

Dear University community,
Earlier this month, we sent a letter about preparing for safe and efficient COVID-19 vaccine distribution. As the situation continues to evolve regarding the availability and distribution of vaccines, I wanted to update you with the latest information.
As a reminder, at this time, we do not yet have any vaccines available at the University of Maryland, but we want to share what we know about vaccine administration and to offer resources for learning more about the vaccine itself.
As you may know, there is a very short supply of vaccine and a slow dissemination process for the vaccine to Maryland and all states. Although the state has expanded eligibility for the vaccine, consistent with CDC guidance, the federal government is sending a limited amount of vaccine to each state. 
Here in Maryland, the State is receiving between 72,000 and 76,000 doses per week from the federal government for an eligible population of nearly 1 million Marylanders based on age alone, as of this week. So far, all of those vaccines have been distributed to hospitals,  municipal and county health departments, and other partners, to vaccinate first responders, medical personnel, and other high risk groups in Phases 1A and 1B, including adults over age 75. Most of our staff and faculty at the University of Maryland who fall into these highest-risk categories have been offered the opportunity to be vaccinated off-campus. 
We have no timeline for when we might receive the vaccine on campus for distribution. Once we do receive it, we will distribute the doses according to guidance from the CDC, the State, and Prince George’s County. Our committee on vaccine dissemination has been hard at work developing a phased priority approach so we are prepared when the vaccine does arrive on campus. In addition, a logistics team is developing a plan for a vaccination clinic, so that when we do receive the vaccine, we will be able to dispense it to our community swiftly.
As a way to support members of our community, I want to provide the current information about vaccine distribution and eligibility.
Maryland’s Phase 1A Vaccine Distribution
Federal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is made directly to each state, with further distribution dependent on state guidelines. Until last week, Maryland limited vaccine distribution to those who are involved in maintaining the capacity of the health care system statewide. As mentioned above, all of our faculty and staff in Phase 1A have been eligible to receive the vaccine off-campus at hospitals and health departments.  
Maryland’s Phase 1B and 1C Vaccine Distribution
Starting January 18, the State of Maryland moved into Phase 1B which includes those who are age 75 and older, as well as teachers and school staff, childcare providers, and residents of assisted living and other congregate living facilities. 
Starting January 25, vaccine eligibility across the state has expanded to Phase 1C, including all those age 65 and over, as well as many frontline service workers. 
Initially, Maryland’s phases 1B and 1C did not include higher education institutions. Last week, Governor Hogan confirmed that faculty and staff at colleges and universities may be included in Phases 1B and 1C, which are now in progress at locations that are dispensing the vaccine. 
University of Maryland Faculty and Staff Vaccine Eligibility
Late last week, we received clarification from the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding the higher education personnel that may be included in phases 1B and 1CIn general, the state’s guidance indicates that only those who are teaching in person or working on campus in essential roles are included in Phases 1B and 1C. We do not yet know whether or how this will affect the state distribution of the vaccine to our campus.
University faculty and staff may be eligible to receive the vaccine through a category unrelated to higher education. 
The State is also distributing the vaccine for the general public through hospitals, health departments, and pharmacies. Eligible UMD employees should pursue vaccination through these programs as it becomes available. 
Currently, Prince George’s County is offering Phase 1B and 1C vaccinations to UMD employees if there is vaccine availability. University of Maryland employees qualify if you live or work in Prince George's County. Individuals must complete the pre-registration form. As vaccine appointments become available, individuals who are eligible will receive an email from the Health Department with a link and instructions on how to make a vaccine appointment. COVID-19 vaccines are offered by appointment only. Pre-register here. Please note that because of the very limited vaccine supply, it may take some time to be contacted by the County depending on which risk-group you may belong in and your place in the queue. The State of Maryland has directed all vaccination sites to “prioritize Marylanders who are 75 and older in Phase 1B, and Marylanders who are 65 and older over all other groups in Phase 1C.”
University of Maryland Student Vaccine Eligibility
Students living on campus, in College Park or in the state of Maryland who meet the criteria for one of the high-risk groups in phase 1A, 1B or 1C not related to higher education may be eligible to receive the vaccine off-campus.. Review the state of Maryland’s COVID-19 vaccination website to learn more about the vaccination phases and to find a local clinic. 
Based on where you are living this semester, I encourage you to keep an eye on the vaccine distribution plan in your local area or state to determine if or when you qualify to receive the vaccine, as well as instructions for how to register to receive the vaccine.  
What to Know About the Vaccine
One of the most important things you can do is to learn all you can about the vaccine, so you are prepared when you are eligible. The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) has helpful information on  the vaccine. In particular, read about the top COVID-19 vaccine myths. Johns Hopkins Medicine has also developed a number of useful videos about the virus and the vaccine.  
Like the CDC, the Maryland Department of Health, and medical providers across the country, I strongly believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from getting the disease, in addition to following preventive measures. Getting vaccinated is also a way to care for your loved ones and to protect our community.
Finally, please continue to follow 4 Maryland best practices for COVID-19 safety—wear a mask, maintain physical distance from others, wash your hands frequently, monitor yourself for symptoms, and stay home if you are feeling sick. And please continue to avoid large gatherings.
Even after you are vaccinated, it is imperative that you  continue to follow this public health guidance until the pandemic is under control and we have been given the “all clear” by the CDC.  
As you know from previous communications, UMD is requiring asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty and staff who come to campus every two weeks. Appointments for on campus testing are available.
I appreciate your continued support and attention to our health and safety guidelines.  As circumstances evolve, we will continue to keep you informed.
Stay safe and be well,
Spyridon S. Marinopoulos, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P.  
Director, University Health Center 
Chief Medical Officer, University of Maryland
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