Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
In recent days, our active COVID cases have declined significantly (44 as of today) and the positivity rate among those tested via our random surveillance testing program over the past week is less than .5%. At the same time, community members continue to present to the Barnes Center and other clinics with cold- and flu-like symptoms not related to COVID. This is a reminder that although we are experiencing success containing the transmission of COVID-19, cold and flu season is upon us.
First Flu Clinic Scheduled
With that in mind, as announced in July 2021, all members of our campus community are once again expected to receive a flu vaccination. Compliance with this requirement will be closely monitored. The University is poised, as it did last year, to make flu shots available on campus through a series of flu clinics. The details of the University’s first flu clinic are as follows:
· Day: Friday, Oct. 1
· Time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
· Where: Barnes Center at The Arch
· Who: All students, faculty and staff are eligible to participate
o Students: Make an appointment by visiting the Patient Portal.
o Faculty and staff: No appointments are required, but we ask that you please bring your completed Flu Vaccine Consent Form [PDF]. Of course, you are also welcome to receive your flu shot from your primary care physician, at a local pharmacy or at other locations providing vaccinations.
· Don’t forget: Please bring your Syracuse University I.D. card and be sure to wear a face mask when you visit the flu clinic.
o Students with religious or medical exemptions: Visit the Patient Portal to download the Medical-Religious Waiver. Once completed, submit your waiver via the “Upload” option in the Patient Portal.
o Faculty and staff: Please indicate your religious or medical exemption via the Faculty/Staff Attestation Survey.
There will be several more opportunities to get your flu shot! Additional faculty and staff flu clinics are already scheduled, and additional flu clinics for students will be held throughout the month of October with more details announced soon.
All the measures that are keeping our community safe (mask wearing, random testing, monitoring for symptoms) from COVID can have the same effect in our collective efforts to combat the spread of other contagious viruses. Receiving the flu shot is equally important. A concurrent outbreak of influenza and COVID-19 on our campus could have devastating consequences for individual and community health, make COVID-19 cases more challenging to detect and diagnosis, and also potentially overwhelm the capacity of the local health care system.
Eligibility Guidance for Pfizer Booster Dosage
Many members of our community have asked about the eligibility requirements for the booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Late yesterday, the New York State Department of Health issued guidance to health care providers and health departments in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations, which makes eligible the following populations to receive the booster shot at least six months after receiving their second dose:
· People 65 years and older and residents of long-term care settings should receive a booster shot
· People aged 50-64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot
· People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot based on their individual benefits and risks
· People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot based on their individual benefits and risks. These include:
o First responders (health care workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
o Education staff (professors/instructors/teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
o Food and agriculture workers (food services staff)
o Public transit workers (bus and trolley drivers)
Given the above eligibility determinations, many in our campus community are now immediately eligible to receive a booster shot. This includes Syracuse University faculty, food services workers, residence life staff and other front line education staff working daily in direct contact with students. If you received the Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago, we encourage you to consider the CDC’s recommendation of a booster dose.
· Faculty/Staff: Onondaga County has partnered with Kinney Drugs to provide booster shots. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Kinney Drugs website.
· For Students: For those of you who may be eligible based on an underlying medical condition, please contact the Barnes Center to schedule a consultation and vaccination appointment.
The availability of Pfizer booster shots adds yet another layer of protection in the University’s ongoing public health strategy aimed at limiting and containing the spread of COVID-19.
We appreciate our community’s continued commitment to our collective public health. Please continue to do your part. The easiest step you can take at this time is getting a flu shot. It’s safe, simple and selfless. Don’t wait, take action today!
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation