by MTU Flex Task Force
Earlier this year distribution of COVID-19 vaccines began. In the wake of the initial vaccinations, there are a lot of questions. The obvious question from most in the campus community is “When can I get vaccinated?”
Sarah Schulte, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Trustees, answers some of the questions employees and others may have in the following Q&A.
Q: Does the University have a vaccination plan?
SS: Michigan Tech is committed to making it as easy as possible for our employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and is working regularly with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) and local health care providers to understand vaccine availability and distribution in our area.
Q: How will they prioritize who gets the vaccine and when?
SS: Prioritization is set by the State of Michigan and includes these priority groups:
- 1A — Health care workers and long-term care residents and employees
- 1B — Essential front-line workers
- 1C — Other essential workers
- 2 — Everyone else
Michigan Tech and the WUPHD are currently determining which of our employees fit within each vaccine priority group. Due to the increased risk of severe illness in older individuals, the State of Michigan has also determined that those 65 and older may receive the vaccine at this time — running that group concurrent with the top of the 1B group.
Q: What is the timeline for vaccinations?
SS: Earlier this month, in partnership with the WUPHD, we were able to hold our first vaccine clinic for those at the top of the 1B category, including COVID-19 lab employees, medical first responders and our police officers, as well as some local preschool teachers. We are hopeful that soon the amount of vaccine in our area will be sufficient to enable us to partner with either the WUPHD or a local health care provider to distribute additional vaccine in accordance with the state’s prioritized levels.
Q: Will the University be vaccinating employees?
SS: Information regarding vaccine clinics will be provided to supervisors as their employees become eligible and vaccine is available. However, employees do not need to wait for a vaccine clinic on our campus — they may obtain the vaccine elsewhere. Information on how to obtain the vaccine is available from several sources, including WUPHD, Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center, Aspirus and UP Health System – Portage. At this time, we are hopeful that we will be vaccinating priority group 1C (Beyond the 65+ age group) by late spring. But that will be determined by vaccine availability.
Q: Will MTU employees be required to get the vaccine?
SS: Michigan Tech is not requiring any employees or students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and there is no need to report your vaccination to the University if you receive it at a location other than a Michigan Tech vaccine clinic. We want to make the vaccine widely available to all of our students, faculty and staff as soon as possible, and we will continue to make this a priority as long as the need remains.
Q: Once I have been vaccinated, will I still have to wear a face covering and follow other COVID-19 protocols?
SS: Yes, employees who have received the COVID-19 vaccine still need to follow all COVID-19 campus protocols. This includes social distancing, wearing a face covering, and daily symptom monitoring prior to arriving on campus.
Here is the response from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the topic:
“Not enough information is currently available to say if or when the CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. We also don’t yet know whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself. CDC will continue to update this page as we learn more.
While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic.
To protect yourself and others, follow these recommendations:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Avoid crowds
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
- Wash your hands often
Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19.
Q: Who do we contact if we have more questions?
SS: All questions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.