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COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine Boosters – Eligibility and Availability

Dear Faculty and Staff,

The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last night that COVID booster shots would be available for certain eligible populations. At this time the eligible populations include those who have received their last dose of Pfizer vaccine over 6 months ago and who are:

  • Age 65 years and older, 
  • working in healthcare facilities, 
  • working in schools.

Other segments of the population are also eligible for boosters per the CDC announcement. We will continue to monitor the CDC for any changes to eligibility.

Duke Employee and Occupational Health and Wellness (EOHW) will be offering booster vaccinations at employee clinics located at Blue Devil Tower, Duke University Hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital by appointment (except at DRAH) beginning Monday, September 27. Specifics about each clinic’s location and operating hours can be found on the Duke COVID Vaccine website. Due to limited capacity, employees eligible for booster shots are also encouraged to explore community resources such as local pharmacies and provider practices.

While the booster shot is not a condition of employment for Duke University or Duke University Health System at this time, we encourage all eligible individuals to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect you and others from potential infection. 

Thank you for your efforts to keep the Duke community safe. Please continue wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently and maintaining social distance.  

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration, Duke University

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Assistant Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health

Gail Shulby, RN, MA, CPP
Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President, Duke Health

Cameron R. Wolfe, MBBS (Hons), MPH, FIDSA
Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Duke Health

Co-Leaders of the COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Work Group

New Guidance on COVID-19 for the Duke Community

August 30, 2021

Dear Students and Colleagues,

We are writing today with new information and guidance on COVID-19 and the Duke University community.

Duke’s comprehensive surveillance testing program has given us detailed insight into the pervasiveness of the Delta variant in the university community regardless of vaccination status. In the last week alone, 304 undergraduates, 45 graduate students and 15 employees tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating. All but eight of these individuals were vaccinated, and the vast majority of them were, and continue to be, asymptomatic. A small number have minor, cold- and flu-like symptoms, and none have been hospitalized.

The good news is that we are able to identify these infections early and quickly, that our near-fully vaccinated student (98%) and employee (92%) populations are protected from serious illness, and that we continue to see no evidence of transmission in our classrooms and other campus locations where all individuals are masked.

Nonetheless, this surge is placing significant stress on the people, systems and facilities that are dedicated to protecting our health, safety and the ability of Duke to fulfill its educational mission, particularly our isolation space for on-campus students who test positive. We cannot stop COVID-19, but what we can do is adapt to our local and national realities and seek to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

As a result, the following new guidelines will be in effect starting Monday, August 30:

  • Masks will now be required on the Duke campus in all indoor and outdoor locations, unless you are exercising [outdoors] alone, eating or drinking, or otherwise not around others. After vaccinations, masks are the best way to prevent the spread of COVID. We have seen this on campus and in our health system.
  • Indoor group seating at Duke Dining facilities will be temporarily suspended. All Duke Dining facilities will transition to grab and go, and more than 25 tents have been erected across the campus to provide outdoor seating for meals and other gatherings.
  • Given the absences in some undergraduate classes due to increased number of students in isolation, faculty teaching undergraduate courses have the option to teach remotely for the next two weeks if they would prefer. This is not a requirement but an accommodation to allow for increased flexibility as needed; those who are able to continue teaching in person should certainly do so.
  • New limitations will be placed on student activities to reduce the possibility of COVID transmissions. Individuals and groups that violate these limitations will face disciplinary consequences. Further information will be provided directly to students.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination will now be required for ALL Duke faculty and staff as a condition of employment. Details will be provided directly to those employees who have not yet submitted proof of vaccination or an approved medical or religious exemption, as well as their deans or vice presidents. As of today, 92% of our 22,136 faculty and staff are fully vaccinated.

As a reminder, every faculty and staff member can participate in the Duke surveillance testing program at any time. It is free, convenient, and can offer peace of mind to those who are concerned about exposure. For more information see the Duke United website.

We want to be clear: the problem is not our people, the problem is COVID-19. Our Duke community has been extraordinarily united and resilient in fighting, and adapting to, this pandemic over the last 19 months. Your efforts have made it possible to fulfill our educational commitment to our students, to advance knowledge and discovery through our research, and to serve our region and society.

And yet, we must continue to do more. This is a time to be prudent, to take care of ourselves and each other so we can continue our important mission, which is now more important than ever.

Go Duke,

Sally Kornbluth,
Provost

Daniel Ennis,
Executive Vice President

Jennifer Francis,
Executive Vice Provost

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President for Administration

Mary Pat McMahon,
Vice President/Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Gary Bennett,
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

This message has been sent to all Duke University students, faculty and staff.

COVID-19 Vaccination a Condition of Employment for University

NOTE: The vaccination policy and deadline for compliance for the School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Duke University Health System has not changed. The deadline remains 10 a.m. on Sept. 21, 2021.

TO:Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM:Sally Kornbluth, Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor
Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration 
RE:COVID-19 Vaccination a Condition of Employment for University

We are writing to advise you that Duke University will revise its COVID-19 vaccination policy to require all faculty and staff to have a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

All faculty and staff members, regardless of work location, must receive and show documentation of their completed COVID-19 vaccination by 10 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2021. This requirement is consistent with the policy already communicated by the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and Duke University Health System. As of today, more than 91% of the 22,136 university employees are vaccinated.

Faculty and staff can visit the Status Check website to ensure their vaccination status has been recorded. Those who are vaccinated outside of a Duke Employee Vaccination Clinic can upload an image of their completed vaccination card through the confidential Duke VaxTrax system so that our records can be updated accordingly. Faculty and staff who need an appointment for vaccination can find various options on the Duke COVID Vaccine website.

University faculty and staff may still apply for a medical or religious exemption, but anyone approved for an exemption will be subject to daily symptom monitoring, weekly surveillance testing, continued masking and other protocols applicable to those who have not been vaccinated.In the coming week, deans and vice presidents will be provided a list of any unvaccinated faculty and staff within their areas to ensure they understand the new policy and implications regarding compliance. Updates will be provided as we approach the deadline for compliance.

Those who are not in compliance by Oct. 1, 2021, will be subject to the following:

  • Individuals will be issued a Final Written Warning and placed on administrative leave. Accrued vacation or discretionary holiday time may be used if available; otherwise, the leave will be unpaid.
  • They will have seven days to receive either the one-dose J&J vaccine, or the first dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, which has now been granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • If an individual does not receive either the J&J or the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna within seven days after the Oct. 1 deadline, they will be terminated at the end of that seven-day period.
  • Those completing the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine will have up to six weeks to provide documentation that they received the required second dose. If the second dose is not administered within the six-week period, the individual will be terminated.

Those terminated for non-compliance would not be recommended for rehire with Duke in the future.

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness related to COVID-19, and it is only way we will bring an end to this pandemic. We are grateful to the thousands in our community who have already taken this step, and we want to take make every effort to support those who have not yet gotten vaccinated. Additional information and resources about the vaccines can found on the Duke COVID Vaccine website. Thank you.

Important Steps to Reduce the Spread of COVID

Dear Colleagues,

You have all seen the reports about the rapid surge of COVID cases locally and nationally as a result of the Delta variant. Duke has not been untouched by this – indeed, even with 91% of our employees and 95% of our students fully vaccinated, we have still recorded a notable increase in positive tests over the past week. Thus far, the vast majority of these positive tests have been among individuals who are fully vaccinated; the majority of those are asymptomatic, with others reporting minor cold- and flu-like symptoms.  

We know that many of you are concerned about transmission on campus, and we want to take this opportunity to provide some additional information and guidance. We cannot eliminate COVID, but we can take some important steps that have been demonstrated to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the community:

  • Wear a mask indoors. Masks are required inside all Duke buildings, and that includes classrooms. Masks are the single most effective way to limit transmission of COVID after vaccinations. Indeed, over the past year we have seen no demonstrated cases of COVID transmission in a classroom or lab when all individuals are masked.
  • To further minimize your general risk and protect others, wear a mask outdoors. Masks are strongly recommended outdoors when you are in a group, even a small group. It’s OK to go maskless when you are exercising or walking by yourself. But if you are with others, even co-workers and students, please wear a mask
  • Eat outdoors. Indoor group dining has been a major vector for virus transmission. We will be adding more tents across campus to accommodate larger numbers of students and employees who wish to eat together. We are also going to expand mobile ordering options at all our dining locations in the days ahead.

We believe that the on-campus, in-person educational experience is important for the educational and emotional well-being of our students.  Be assured that we are constantly monitoring the environment, particularly with respect to where and when COVID transmission appears to be occurring. Our uniformly high vaccination rates, robust surveillance testing, universal masking and the absence of any documented classroom transmission indicate that we can continue safely with our classroom and residential experience. Please know, though, that we are in close and regular contact with Duke infectious disease and public health experts and will take all necessary actions to protect the health and safety of our university community. 

Sincerely,

Sally Kornbluth
Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President for Administration

This message is being sent to all Duke University faculty and staff

Third Dose Appointments for Immunocompromised Individuals

Dear Faculty and Staff:

On Monday, Duke Employee Occupational Health & Wellness will begin administering a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals who meet the criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals.

Immunocompromised people do not always build the same level of immunity after vaccination as non-immunocompromised people, so they may benefit from an additional dose to ensure adequate protection against COVID-19 and are therefore being prioritized for additional dosing. 

Faculty and staff who have the following conditions who have been fully vaccinated for at least 28 days may schedule an appointment for a third dose at the Duke Employee Vaccination Clinic located at Blue Devil Tower:

  • Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.

Other risk factors for severe COVID-19 disease, such as age (65+), obesity, diabetes, or cardiopulmonary disease, are NOT included in the expansion of the vaccines’ Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) at this time.

We hope to receive approval to begin offering a booster dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) to health care workers beginning in late September. At that time, Duke health care workers who received the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 8 months previously will be eligible to receive the booster shot. More information will be shared once we receive authorization.

At this time, we do not have an anticipated date when booster shots will be available for other patients, employees and the general public, but we will communicate that information broadly when it is available. 

In the meanwhile, please continue to take every precaution to reduce the spread of infection. We have seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalized patients due to the high transmissibility of the Delta variant. Getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid potential severe illness related to COVID-19, and everyone should continue to wear masks indoors and in gatherings of people in close proximity.

Thank you for doing your part to help keep our community safe. If you have questions, you can contact us at stopcovid@duke.edu or visit the Duke COVID Vaccine website for more information. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration, Duke University

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Assistant Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health

Gail Shulby, RN, MA, CPPS
Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President, Duke Health

Cameron R. Wolfe, MBBS (Hons), MPH, FIDSA
Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Duke Health

Co-Leaders of the COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Work Group

Things to Keep in Mind as Duke Reopens this Fall

The message below is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Welcome (back) Duke students! We truly missed you this summer—campus was not the same without you, and we look forward to welcoming the Class of 2025 and transfer  students this week. We are so very excited to see you on campus as Duke reopens amid a much more typical year’s atmosphere. We at Duke have spent the summer doing everything we can to restore and resume the energy, connections, and interactions we’ve missed since March 2020. 

However, as you know, the Delta variant of COVID is complicating this plan. Emerging data from Duke and national experts show that the Delta variant is highly transmissible (regardless of whether or not you’re vaccinated). We asked some of our student leaders to share some thoughts to keep in mind as we open the fall semester in the video below. 

Let’s break this down:

  • Yes, most students are at lower risk, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. 
  • One reason we want to reduce infection is because we don’t know the long-term effects of COVID. You may not think it’s a big deal if you do get COVID, especially if you are vaccinated. However, no one knows the long-term effects of COVID. In short—you don’t want this.
  • We need your help in reducing spread for those who can’t be vaccinated—that includes some of your immunocompromised peers and staff and faculty with young children (who can’t be vaccinated). It is up to all of us to keep the most vulnerable among us safer.

We’re committed to creating a community in which Duke students can learn and thrive. Duke wants to support as many opportunities for you to connect with your faculty and mentors, to explore research and leadership opportunities, and just have the chance to be together and have fun.  We’re going to do everything we can to safely promote events and opportunities for connection this year, particularly outdoor events.

A few reminders of what you need to do:

  • For the time being, everyone needs to be masked while indoors, including in residential common areas. This is also a local Durham ordinance.
  • Eat outside as much as possible, or take your food to-go. We’re still seeing higher transmission rates indoors and over shared meals, so do what you can to mitigate any risk for yourself and others while eating.
  • Participate in surveillance testing weekly. Most breakthrough cases are asymptomatic or resemble a mild cold, so you might not know you’re positive without the surveillance test. Student Health will contact you within 48 hours if you’ve tested positive for COVID.

We also hope you’ll think with us about all that we’ve learned in the past 15 months. 

We have learned a lot in the past year and recently we shared some thoughts with our faculty. We’ve also been talking with students about ways many of you have built intentional practices, gained new skills, and found ways to connect to your  passions and purpose in the pandemic. How do we go forward from here and build on that learning? There will be opportunities to connect and engage this fall, and we’re eager to be in conversation with your student groups and residential communities to think about how we can encourage your growth here at Duke.

Thank you for helping us kick off this academic year as safely as possible. We can’t wait to see you at the Blue Devil Return or on the plaza soon! 

Go Duke, 

Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost of Student Affairs

Gary Bennett
Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education

Third Dose of COVID Vaccine for Immunosuppressed Individuals

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

On Thursday, Aug. 12, the FDA reviewed and authorized an expansion of its emergency use authorization for the currently available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. This action is designed to allow immunosuppressed individuals to receive an extra dose of the vaccine.

We are closely monitoring these developments. Before we administer any additional doses of authorized vaccine, Duke experts will review all available safety and efficacy data to ensure the science supports its use. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice is meeting on Friday, Aug. 13, to review the data.

In anticipation of this expansion of emergency use authorization, we are preparing for Duke to participate in the equitable and efficient distribution of the additional dose to the immunosuppressed population. We expect to learn more during the upcoming CDC/ACIP review process about these patients, as well as specific guidance for administering an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

We are encouraged by the authorization of this additional dose to help us keep immunosuppressed patients safe and protected from COVID-19. Once the expansion is approved, we will notify all our team members, patients and the community of the qualifying criteria and how to schedule their additional dose of the vaccine. (UPDATE: The CDC has now issued criteria for those moderately to severely immunocompromised who are recommended for a third dose of the mRNA vaccine. See qualifying criteria link above.)

We hope this early information helps you understand how Duke is preparing for the distribution of the additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to the qualifying patient population once it is available. If you have questions, you can contact us at stopcovid@duke.edu.

Please continue to take every means to reduce the spread of infection and protect yourself, your loved ones and our Duke community. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces, stay at least six feet apart from others, and stay home and get tested when you are feeling ill. Thank you for all you are doing to keep yourself, your family and our community safe.

Sincerely,

Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration, Duke University

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Assistant Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health

Gail Shulby, RN, MA, CPPS
Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President, Duke Health

Cameron R. Wolfe, MBBS (Hons), MPH, FIDSA
Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Duke Health

Co-Leaders of the COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Work Group

Building Access for the Fall Semester

TO: Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM:
Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration
Jim Churchman, Vice President, Supply Chain Management
RE: Building Access for Fall Semester

In preparation for the fall semester, Duke University will return to its normal building access for campus buildings effective Monday, Aug. 16. Research labs in the School of Medicine will continue to require an active DukeCard for access.

  • Buildings that are normally open to public access will return to that status on August 16. DukeCards will not be required during regular business hours.
  • Buildings such as residence halls that were in a controlled-access state before the pandemic will remain so after August 16. Any other modifications to building access should be made to the DukeCard Office.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to complete symptom monitoring to activate their DukeCards.
  • Individuals who are NOT vaccinated WILL be required to complete symptom monitoring every day to reactivate their DukeCards.
  • All students, faculty and staff should continue to report any COVID-related symptoms using the SymMon app or by contacting Employee Occupational Health and Wellness or Student Health.
  • Schools and departments should ensure appropriate staffing in buildings during normal operating hours. Delivery companies and vendors will begin delivering packages directly to buildings that are open.
  • Numerous packages still remain unclaimed at the central receiving location set up by Procurement & Supply Chain last year at the Golden Drive Warehouse. Inquiries about missing packages should be directed to deliveryinquiries@duke.edu with any available tracking information and original recipient/location details. The Golden Drive Warehouse location will begin phasing out its redelivery status once the buildings are open on August 16, 2021.

Thank you for your attention to these changes.

Updated Guidelines for Eating on Campus

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

With the increasing prevalence of the COVID-19 Delta variant and the resulting spike in positive tests among Duke students and employees in recent weeks, we are making changes to our public health measures to reduce the risk of potential outbreaks. In addition to required vaccination and masking indoors, we are now updating our guidance for eating meals because communal dining has continued to be one of the primary modes of transmission.

All members of the Duke community should adhere to the following while eating together with others:

  • If you are dining with others do so outdoors if possible. You are less likely to get or spread COVID-19 while outside. Additional tents with tables have been set up on campus to provide more access to shaded areas for outdoor dining.
  • Food should not be served or provided at indoor meetings, events, conferences and other gatherings, unless an outside eating option is made available.
  • When dining indoors, remain masked at all times except when actively eating and drinking. This includes waiting in line and walking to and from an eating location.
  • Be aware of surroundings in the environment, especially indoors, when deciding where to sit while you eat. Seating at indoor tables should be limited to no more than four individuals if possible to reduce overall density.
  • Minimize periods of time where multiple people are eating within the same communal space.
  • Remember to practice good hygiene before eating, including washing or sanitizing your hands thoroughly.

This guidance is in effect until further notice.  We are monitoring campus, local and national conditions and will provide updates as warranted.

The greatest protection against severe health risks related to COVID-19 is vaccination. Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated should do so at your earliest opportunity to help protect yourself and your loved ones.  As a reminder, vaccination is required for all students, faculty and staff. It is safe, free, easily accessible to every member of the Duke community and effective. You can find more information about options to get vaccinated and answers to frequently asked questions on the Duke COVID Vaccine website.

Thank you for doing your part to protect yourself and our community, and we look forward to a safe and productive fall semester.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Matthew Stiegel
Ph.D., Director, Occupational and Environmental Safety Office
This message is being sent to all Duke University students, faculty and staff.

Durham to Require Masks Indoors

TO:Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM:Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration
RE:Durham to Require Masks Indoors

Due to the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks due to the Delta variant, the city and county of Durham have announced a state of emergency and now require mask be worn indoors, even among those who are fully vaccinated.

The new requirement, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, is consistent with the requirement already announced by Duke University and the recommendations the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the approach of the fall semester, Duke officials are closely monitoring trends in the area and on campus and may issue new guidance as appropriate to promote the health and safety of our community. The latest guidance and protocols can be found on the Duke United website.

We are making progress in vaccinating faculty and staff on campus with 87 percent now fully vaccinatedVaccination is required for all students, faculty and staff. Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated should do so as soon as possible to protect against potential severe health risks associated with the Delta variant. Members of the Duke community can find options for vaccination on the Duke COVID Vaccine website.

All students are also required to be vaccinated and are being tested upon arrival before participating in activities on campus. Students will also continue to be tested weekly during the semester to help identify and respond quickly to asymptomatic cases to limit the potential for outbreaks on campus.

We will continue to assess our COVID protocols and test results as the semester progresses to determine whether updated guidance is necessary. Thank you for your help in promoting the health and safety of our community.

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