Safer Travel and Vaccine Updates
A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator
Dear Members of the Yale Community,
As we approach the midpoint of our semester, our community’s vaccination rates are very high and our numbers of COVID-19 infections on campus remain relatively low. My message this week will provide a few updates and reminders to help us keep ourselves and our campus as healthy as possible.
Thinking of traveling?
Travel and social gatherings continue to be associated with an increased risk for COVID-19 infection and transmission. Although rates of new infections are declining in many parts of the country and some parts of the world, most states and many countries are still designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or the U.S. Department of State as areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
As many of you look forward to traveling over the fall break next week, I encourage you to review the university’s travel policy and familiarize yourselves with the CDC’s recommendations for safer travel. Please remember to be tested for COVID-19 upon your return to campus in accordance with the guidance I provided in last week’s message. To accommodate travelers returning from fall break, Yale’s Testing Program will extend hours at some test sites to 8:00 p.m. on October 24 and 25.
While numbers of infections on our campus are relatively low, we have seen an increase in new COVID-19 cases recently. Our surrounding community has also experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases in the past days, and New Haven County remains at the CDC’s substantial transmission level. Therefore, as you contemplate activities off-campus as well as on-campus, please be mindful of all of our health and safety measures—especially those that call for masking indoors, avoiding large social gatherings, and favoring outdoor or take-out dining.
Got your (flu) shot?
Flu season is approaching, and getting a flu shot is even more important this year because symptoms of the flu are similar to those of COVID-19. Yale Health offers a variety of options to help you get your flu shot, including a special clinic tomorrow at 310 Winchester Avenue. Use the Find Your Flu Shot Tool (Yale NetID and password required) to schedule your appointment.
But where is my (COVID-19) booster?
Yesterday a committee of advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted to recommend booster shots of the Moderna vaccine for many who received an initial series (two doses) of the vaccine. This action mirrors the FDA advisory committee’s earlier recommendation for Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) COVID-19 boosters and applies to people 65 years of age and older, those from 18 to 64 years of age who are at high risk for severe COVID-19, and those from 18 to 64 years of age who may be at high risk for COVID-19 due to their occupational or institutional settings. Today the FDA advisory committee will review information and make recommendations regarding boosters for those who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) vaccine.
Review by the FDA advisory committee is an important, but not the final, step in the process to authorize vaccine boosters. The FDA advisory committee’s recommendations will be forwarded to the FDA Commissioner, who will issue the FDA’s final determinations. As was the case with the Pfizer booster authorization, the FDA’s determinations will be forwarded to the CDC. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will then conduct a review of relevant information and the FDA’s findings and forward its recommendations to the CDC Director for a final decision regarding authorization of booster shots. ACIP is scheduled to meet to conduct its review next Wednesday and Thursday, October 20 and 21, and a final determination from the CDC may be announced as early as late next week.
As I reported in a previous message, the CDC has already authorized and made recommendations for boosters for those who initially received the Pfizer vaccine. Appointments for Pfizer boosters are available to members of the Yale community through the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine Program, which is now located at 310 Winchester Avenue. The Program also provides initial series of Pfizer and J&J vaccinations and additional doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to those who are immunocompromised. The Program is prepared to offer appointments for Moderna and J&J boosters if they are authorized by the CDC.
Whether you are traveling or staying home to enjoy New England’s fall colors, you have my best wishes for your health and safety and my deepest thanks for all you do to take care of yourselves, each other, and our community.
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