Accelerated Vaccine Eligibility and Clarification around Gatherings (3/19/21)

A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator


  • Connecticut accelerates the schedule for vaccine eligibility
    • New: Individuals 45-54 years old eligible on March 19
    • New: Individuals 16 and older expected to be eligible April 5
  • Clarification: Yale workplace gathering guidelines remain unchanged
  • New: Connecticut COVID-19-related restrictions have relaxed, but Yale policies are unchanged

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

As I shared in my special message earlier this week, Governor Lamont has announced that the state plans to accelerate the vaccination eligibility timeline for Connecticut residents. In addition to the currently eligible groups (healthcare personnel, medical first responders, pre-K-12th grade educators and childcare providers, and individuals 55 and older), individuals from 45 to 54 years old will become eligible today, and it is anticipated that all individuals 16 years of age and older will be eligible as of April 5.

In my message, I also detailed the pathways for making a vaccination appointment. Scheduling information is also available on the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine Program site. Since vaccine supplies remain constrained, I encourage you to explore multiple options to find the earliest time and the site that work best for you.

Can we finally relax?

While a faster roll-out of the vaccine is a promising development, we must remain mindful that many of us will not be fully vaccinated for weeks to come. In the meantime, rates of infection in Connecticut and New Haven remain elevated and there is increasing evidence of the presence of the more infectious COVID-19 variants. Positive cases in our own campus community have increased recently—largely connected to gatherings and dining in restaurants—another strong reminder of the need to remain extremely cautious.

In addition to following Yale’s health and safety guidelines—wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, participating in testing and contact tracing—be alert to how many close contacts you have throughout the day. Remember that every close personal contact carries the risk of infection. Even if each gathering is small, your number of close contacts expands rapidly if you attend multiple gatherings.

What about the new CDC guidelines on gatherings for those who have been fully vaccinated? Do they mean we can have more in-person meetings on campus again?

Not yet. The CDC recently issued recommendations to allow those fully vaccinated to “visit” in small gatherings indoors without masks or physical distance. While you may use this guidance in planning personal events in your own household, Yale has not changed its policy regarding campus gatherings. If you have the option to meet remotely, you should. If you need to meet in-person, you should do so with masks and observing 6 feet of distance between each attendee.

I am a manager and want to know if all people in my workplace are vaccinated. May I ask?

Currently the answer is no. Employees and students of Yale are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated when eligible, but for now vaccination is not a requirement. Whether an individual is vaccinated should be considered personal information at this time and the choice to share that information is up to them. As many of us anticipate returning to our offices in the coming weeks and months, it is important to remember that we cannot base workplace guidance or decisions on the assumption that every individual is vaccinated, or that we will know whether or not they are.

Today the state has relaxed some of its COVID-19-related restrictions. How will this affect Yale’s policies?

Yesterday Governor Lamont issued an executive order relaxing capacity restrictions on religious, spiritual and worship gatherings and moving the state’s travel advisory provisions from mandatory to guidance status. In addition, the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development has updated its sector rules to relax capacity and other restrictions for certain businesses and venues, effective March 19, 2021. We are reviewing our university policies in relation to these changes. However, at this time, especially given the state of COVID-19 transmission on our campus and in our local community, all current university COVID-19 policies remain in effect.

With the greater availability of the vaccine on the horizon, we all have reason for renewed optimism. However, for now, we must temper our enthusiasm with caution, as we know that relaxing our health and safety guidelines can lead all too quickly to outbreaks, especially with the increasing prevalence of the more highly transmissible COVID-19 variants. Your diligence in following our health and safety guidelines throughout this year has been extraordinary. Let’s all stay the course and continue to care for ourselves and each other until the pandemic is behind us.

Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator