Dear Panther community,
With supplies of COVID-19 vaccine still limited - only about 6.6 million people across the United States have been vaccinated so far - we are continuing to work with local public health partners on UNI's vaccine distribution plan.
We expect that UNI front-line medical workers will be able to be vaccinated soon at the Student Health Clinic. The Centers for Disease Control has provided things to know about the vaccines. CDC guidelines call for health care personnel and long-term care facility staff and residents to be vaccinated first in Phase 1a. Expected to begin later this winter, the next phase (1b) includes anyone 75 and older and front-line essential workers. We are awaiting guidance on the eligibility of educational sector employees at higher education institutions, including UNI, as part of this phase.
Adults aged 16-64 with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe life-threatening complications from COVID-19 and anyone aged 65-74 are placed in the next group (1c) and expected to be vaccinated this spring. Healthy individuals under the age of 64 will be included in the next phase in which the vaccine is projected to be available to everyone this summer.
Because it's currently unknown whether vaccinated individuals can still transmit the virus, it's important to continue following public safety protocols like wearing masks, hand washing, physical distancing and avoiding crowds.
New variants: Another reason safety protocols are so important is a new variant of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, according to the CDC. It has so far been detected in seven U.S. states, the agency said. Currently this variant is not believed to be more dangerous or immune from the vaccines, but it does spread more easily from person to person. Other variants have been discovered in South Africa and Nigeria.
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is a community effort and we will continue to closely watch and follow IDPH's and CDC's recommended safety protocols on our campus, including for cleaning and disinfecting. Remember wearing masks and remaining physically distanced are crucial steps for us each to take in protecting ourselves and the entire community. Don't forget to fill out the PantherHealth survey if you will be on campus and if you are symptomatic or have potentially been exposed. Contact the Student Health Center at 273-2100 to determine if testing is appropriate.
John Vallentine, Associate Provost for Faculty
Joseph Rayzor, Director of Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety