Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
After careful review of the medical and scientific data, we are changing our COVID vaccination requirements.
We have experienced a steady decline in the number of cases and severity of illness since the beginning of the year. This decline is attributable to two key factors: our community has about 95 percent immunity (through vaccination or previous infection) and weaker variants of the virus evolved that cause less severe illness. As a result, we no longer need to take some of the public health measures required earlier in the pandemic.
As physicians, we strongly recommend getting up-to-date vaccinations against COVID-19, especially for those with conditions that place them at higher risk. The vaccine is still one of the most effective ways of protecting yourself and others. However, we no longer need to mandate vaccinations and/or boosters as a public health measure for those working outside of the healthcare environment. Therefore, effective May 11–when the federal Public Health Emergency ends–current and new students, faculty and staff who do not work in a healthcare environment are no longer required to receive the primary or booster vaccinations. This change is consistent with our peer universities. We will also continue to offer the primary and booster vaccinations free of charge to all students, faculty and staff.
Duke Health–which includes the Duke University Health System, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the Private Diagnostic Clinic, and Duke Health Integrated Practice–recently announced that its faculty and staff are still required to receive the primary series of the COVID vaccination (as required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid), but booster vaccinations are no longer required now. All health science students will continue to follow the same protocols as Duke Health.
We will continue to monitor data and trends. Should any new variants or novel viruses emerge that may create a public health risk for our community, we will consider reinstituting protocols, including masking and required vaccination. And as a reminder, anyone testing positive for COVID should continue to report to Employee Health or Student Health, mask and isolate as required before returning to work, class or academic activities. For more information about the end of the vaccination mandate, including answers to common questions, please visit the Duke Coronavirus website.
Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Executive Director, Employee Occupational Health and Wellness
Assistant Professor in Occupational and Environmental Medicine
John Vaughn, MD
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs & Student Health Director
Associate Professor, Family Medicine & Community Health
Cameron R. Wolfe, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine
Transplant Infectious Disease