UMass Center for Public Health Promotion COVID-19 Update: UMass Amherst

Ann Becker and Jeffrey Hescock, co-directors of the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC), sent an email to the campus community on Thursday, announcing the availability of bivalent COVID-19 and influenza vaccines on campus and have encouraged faculty, staff and students to receive the COVID-19 Reminder as soon as they are eligible.

This email is as follows:

Dear campus community,

The fall semester is underway and we appreciate the collective efforts of our entire community to adhere to campus public health protocols. As the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to change, an important strategy is to keep your vaccine protection up to date by getting a newly formulated COVID-19 booster.

The FDA recently cleared bivalent COVID-19 vaccines. These updated vaccine boosters are designed to give you broad protection, including against the earlier COVID-19 strain and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lines. The BA.4 and BA.5 strains are expected to circulate widely this fall and winter.

The university strongly recommends that all faculty, staff, and students get vaccinated with the new Pfizer or Moderna Bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as they are eligible. Anyone with at least two months since the end of their primary or booster vaccine is eligible. The Moderna Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is licensed for people 18 years of age and older, and the Pfizer Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is licensed for people 12 years of age and older.

The Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC), in partnership with the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing and University Health Services (UHS), will continue to provide convenient immunization clinics at the lower level of the Center on campus for anyone eligible. Beginning Thursday, September 22, vaccination clinics are scheduled for Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for anyone 12 years of age or older. For children under 12, a clinic will take place every Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Appointments will be required for the month of September, then in October walk-ins will be accepted, but we encourage everyone to make an appointment. Additionally, please visit the Massachusetts COVID-19 vaxfinder for other locations in the area.

As flu season is fast approaching, we strongly encourage you to get your flu shot as well. Flu shots are offered at all PHPC COVID-19 clinics. When you come for your COVID-19 shot, just ask to get your flu shot too – it’s quick and easy.

When we return to campus, we see cases of COVID-19 in the community. It is important that all members of our campus continue to follow public health protocols.

Monitor yourself daily for symptoms of COVID-19 before coming to campus. Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 should wear a mask, stay home and get tested. People who test positive for COVID-19 are required to self-isolate for at least five days before returning to class or work or attending events, and report the positive test to [email protected] You must continue to wear a mask for five more days. For more information, see Guidance on Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19 or Exposed to COVID-19.

We encourage you to wear a mask whenever you are in a crowded environment and remember to respect an individual’s masking decisions. Free KN95 masks and antigen testing (at home) are available from vending machines located on the lower level of Campus Center and at UHS.

It is our collective responsibility to follow public health protocols for a healthy UMass community and a successful fall semester.

Sincerely,

Co-Directors of the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC)

Ann Becker, Director of Public Health
Jeffrey Hescock, Executive Director of Environment, Health and Safety

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