University encouraging vaccinations
Madeline S. Scharf – Reporter
With the continued vaccination of millions of adults in the United States, projected need for surveillance testing is waning.
According to CDC guidelines, testing for the fully vaccinated has become far more relaxed. Fully vaccinated people who have waited two weeks can “refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible,” according to the CDC website.
Currently, the university still requires weekly testing for all on-campus students. But this is expected to change come next fall.
Jules Tetreault, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, spoke about the university’s tentative plans. “Our hope is to have our complete plans published in early summer,” said Tetreault.
The university does not make these decisions uninformed. “We follow the guidance of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH),” said Tetreault. “What they say is what we end up doing.”
The DPH also follows federal guidelines for COVID-19 practices. “The university pays attention to what the DPH says,” said Tetreault. “The DPH pays attention to federal guidelines, the CDC. 99.9 percent of the state guidelines are in line with the federal ones.”
With no official plan yet, nothing is set in stone. However, Tetreault expects testing “won’t be 100 percent like it is this semester.”
Currently, on-campus students are tested once a week. Tetreault said he thinks the testing is “very effective,” and the university “has a fairly low positivity rate. I think it speaks to the testament of our students, and how they continue to follow the guidelines.”
But as people continue to get vaccinated, the expectation that testing will sLow down is apparent. With the CDC saying it is not necessary for those vaccinated, it is expected that testing would diminish.
The reason testing next semester is such a difficult question to answer is because the university and health departments are not sure how many students have been vaccinated. Erin Duff, the university’s COVID-19 coordinator, said in an email interview, “it will have a lot to do with how many students receive the vaccine and then we will know more regarding a plan around how often, who will need to be tested, etc.”
Vaccinations are not currently mandatory to attend the university. It is unclear if the state will pass a law to require vaccination to live on-campus, as they have done for the meningitis shot.
Right now, all the university can do is empower students to go out and get the vaccine. “We encourage students to get the vaccine,” said Tetreault. “We plan for a 100% in-person fall semester, and everyone plays a role in looking after their fellow community members.”
The university has partnered with Yale to provide clinics for students all around the state. “Working with Yale allows students to have access points to vaccination clinics across the state,” said Tetreault. There are shuttle options for on-campus students to a local clinic to receive their doses. There are also more clinics listed on the Yale New Haven Health website.
The university will consider an on-campus vaccine clinic if needed. “We will try to learn how many people have been vaccinated in the fall,” said Tetreault. “If the need for more vaccination centers is seen in our community, we will set one up if it will be effective.”
Tetreault does not know if the on-campus vaccination center will be needed, though. “Currently, the number of vaccines outweigh how many people want or need to get it,” said Tetreault. “Students just need to find the access points that are all across the state.”
“Continue to take precautions to keep our community safe,” said Tetreault. “Consider vaccination for the safety of our community.”