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Vaccines Required for A Better Normal

DEPARTMENT(S): 
May 6, 2021

Dear WPI Community,

I hope this message finds you and yours in good health, good spirits, and filled with optimism for the future. As I work with others from throughout the university to envision our campus community coming back together this fall, it is clear that we all want the next academic year to be as close to “normal” as possible. Fortunately, thanks to the availability and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, we have good reason for optimism, and we also have clear insights to guide our next steps. Today I am writing to you about how we are handling the need for vaccines.

As we head toward a more robust return to in-person learning, teaching, and working, we will do so once again by following Our North Star: keeping the health and safety of our community as our top priority. When making our plans, we will continue to follow the science and analyze available data, with the Coronavirus Emergency Response Team (CERT) carefully evaluating what safety measures will need to be in place in order to provide a more normal campus experience. That is our hope and our goal, but it relies on the vast majority of our community being vaccinated.

Immunization Makes All the Difference

Vaccination provides the best protection against COVID-19, and thus it provides the best chance for us to return to the daily activities that are so critical to college life. Our campus vaccination rate will significantly influence our operations for the fall; to get back to unrestricted status, models suggest that vaccination levels of at least 90% are necessary to prevent the continued spread and dire health impact of the virus.

More than 820 community members took advantage of on-campus vaccination clinics, and because we believe that many more have accessed public clinics in the region, I am confident that we can easily reach the necessary level of immunity. To ensure that we do this, and to bolster community health and safety in the 2021–22 academic year, today we are announcing the following:

For Students:

  • WPI requires that all undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in on-campus classes and/or conducting research in on-campus labs, whether they live on campus or off, be fully vaccinated (two weeks post their last dose) against COVID-19 by August 1, 2021.

For Employees:

  • WPI strongly encourages that all employees get vaccinated.
  • Employees must enter their vaccine information into Workday by June 15, 2021 so we can monitor total vaccination levels on campus. If those numbers show a lower than optimal level of immunization on campus, the university may require vaccination among employees. 

Individual vaccination status will be kept strictly confidential. And, as with our COVID-19 testing data, WPI will post aggregate vaccination levels on campus on our dashboard so our community can also track our progress in real time. 

What We Need to Do Now

Vaccination is a national priority, and every state is providing free clinics. “Fully vaccinated” status is achieved two weeks after the final dose. Anyone not yet vaccinated should sign up for an appointment as soon as possible.

  • In order to meet their August 1 deadline, students will need to be fully vaccinated by the dates below based on the type of vaccine they are receiving:
    • Johnson & Johnson (one dose): July 18
    • Pfizer (two doses, three weeks apart): First dose by June 27; second dose by July 18
    • Moderna (two doses, four weeks apart): First dose by June 20; second dose by July 18
  • Anyone who lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts can get vaccinated through the state vaccine program or find other sites by zip code. Some sites are open for walk-ins; others are by appointment.
  • Students heading to homes outside Massachusetts should check their state’s public health website.
  • WPI will give support and guidance to our international students who may not have access in their home countries to vaccines approved by the World Health Organization.
  • Students with questions or concerns about the vaccines are welcome to contact our Health Services Team or speak with their own health care provider.
  • Employees with questions or concerns should speak with their own health care provider and can also reference information provided by the CDC and/or the FDA.
  • More information will be forthcoming about the process for students to submit a request for medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement. (Addendum May 12, 2021: instructions on found here, under Vaccination Exemptions.)

Once you have received your dose(s), please provide your vaccination information to WPI as soon as possible:

  • Students must use this link to provide their information to Medicat.

Please know that, as always, your privacy is a priority. Only the Health Services team has access to individual students’ health information, and only WPI Talent & Inclusion personnel have access to employees’ vaccination information. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance, and no professors, supervisors, colleagues, nor the WPI administration will have access to student or employee health information.

As we have met every other challenge presented by this global pandemic, we will rise to the challenge of achieving at least a 90% overall vaccination level on campus. Time after time throughout this pandemic, students, faculty, and staff showed resilience, selflessness and dedication to others, and a remarkable nimbleness in adapting to the new health and safety needs of our community. This is what makes WPI so special, and this is what makes me so hopeful for Fall 2021.

Thank you for your ongoing dedication to WPI and each other.

President Leshin