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COVID-19 Protocols Remain in Place Notwithstanding Vaccination Status

As Massachusetts expands its COVID-19 vaccine distribution to all of Phase 1 and the first eligible group of Phase 2, including COVID-facing healthcare workers, long-term care facilities, first responders, congregate care settings, non-COVID-facing healthcare workers, and individuals 75 or older, many more MCPHS Community members gain vaccine eligibility. New Hampshire continues Phase 1a of its vaccine distribution, which includes high-risk healthcare workers and first responders. New Hampshire expects to complete vaccinating all healthcare workers by March. As more MCPHS Community members receive both doses of COVID-19 vaccine, it is important to note that vaccinated individuals will be required to continue wearing face coverings or masks and continue their respective COVID-19 testing compliance.

Despite Moderna's efficacy of 94.1% and Pfizer's efficacy of 95% (both of which are significantly advanced as compared to the average flu vaccine's 40-60% reduced risk of infection), there is still a chance that some vaccinated individuals could contract the coronavirus. Additionally, protection from the vaccination does not happen immediately—it is expected to take a couple of weeks—and there is no long-term data to tell how long that protection may last. Furthermore, though highly effective in preventing people from falling ill or reducing the severity of the illness, there is no evidence that the vaccine prevents the spread of the virus.

Public health experts urge people to continue following COVID-19 safety protocols after receiving both COVID-19 vaccine shots because public health initiatives are the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus until we reach herd immunity. According to the estimate of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, herd immunity will require the vaccination of 70-85% of the population. Until then, all members of the MCPHS Community (vaccinated and non-vaccinated) must do their part in the public health initiative by maintaining the University’s required COVID-19 protocols:

Wear a Face Covering or Mask

Since the main source of SARS-CoV-2 contagion is through respiratory droplets, face coverings or masks are a key component to preventing its transmission. Cloth masks with two or more layers block most respiratory droplets 20 microns or larger, as well as some fine droplets (aerosols) smaller than 10 microns. In fact, cloth masks with two or more layers can block 50-70% of aerosols. By wearing a mask, particularly a surgical mask or a cloth face covering with two or more layers, asymptomatic and presymptomatic carriers can largely reduce their chances of unwittingly spreading the virus. Likewise, mask-wearers protect themselves from infection. Some reports have shown cloth masks with two or more layers to have filtered 50% of droplets less than 1 micron. N95 masks are most effective, capable of filtering 99.8% of droplets smaller than .1 microns, which is approximately the diameter of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Maintain COVID-19 Testing Compliance

Students, faculty, and staff are required to maintain their respective testing frequency schedule (e.g., 1x/week, 2x/week) on an ongoing basis. Please download the COVID-19 Testing Frequency Schedule for the latest testing requirements.

Students, faculty, and staff are required to report symptoms with the CoVerified application before physically coming to campus the morning of each regularly scheduled day. Individuals with symptoms consistent with a prospective COVID-19 diagnosis, regardless of a negative test result, will not be allowed on campus.

Frequent Hand Washing

Hand washing is an easy way to avoid getting and spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as many other illnesses. Hands are prime transmitters for germs because in addition to touching many surfaces (sometimes contaminated) throughout a day, people commonly touch their eyes, nose, and mouth—susceptible areas to expose an individual to infection. According to the CDC, education in hand washing can reduce respiratory infections (like COVID-19) in the general population by 16-21%. Proper handwashing involves five simple steps, including a solid scrub for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, the next-best option is hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content. Though not as effective as washing your hands, rubbing them with hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds will reduce the number of germs on your hands. Additionally, you can reduce the germs you come into contact with by frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and keeping your hands away from your face.

Practice Physical/Social Distance

The safety measure of remaining at least six feet apart is complementary to the other health protocols. Should some germs remain after sanitizing your hands, or an extra-powerful sneeze cause infectious droplets to spritz through your mask, a physical distance of six feet or more can buffer those compromised defenses. As with other hygienic practices, avoiding close contact (or keeping a social distance) equally protects you, especially since you have less insight as to how well others monitor their health and cleanliness. Since people can spread the virus before they show symptoms, it is vital to keep a distance of six feet or more with anyone to avoid infection. The easiest way to evade close contact with others is to avoid large gatherings.

MCPHS has made considerable efforts to keep its Community members safe while responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. The most recent developments include a pharmacy technician vaccination training program and additional APhA immunization training programs for PharmD students, which will be added in January and February to certify more individuals to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. The University also is engaging in strategic partnerships with local institutions and organizations that have vaccine allocations to secure vaccines for our Community members eligible as part of Phase 1. Additionally, the University is staying up to date on vaccine supply and distribution locations including pharmacies, healthcare settings, and designated mass vaccination sites such as Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park, and will communicate with Community members as to when they are eligible for vaccination in accordance with their state’s rollout plan.

Students, faculty, and staff have all come together to practice COVID-19 safety protocols, participate in testing, and adhere to the University’s Flexplan 2021. Many Community members have brought their professional healthcare skills to bear, directly and indirectly confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. As an institution focused on educating students in health sciences, MCPHS understands the importance of adherence to expert guidance in keeping everyone safe, which is why it is reminding its Community members to remain vigilant even after receiving both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

We recommend you follow the CDC's ongoing guidance for the latest COVID-19 vaccination information, Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines.

Flexplan 2021

Cover image of Flexplan 2021 PDF

Our plan for the safe reopening in the spring.

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COVID-19 Team Contact Information

Phone:
617-732-2798

Email:
covid19team@mcphs.edu

Hours:
Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.