Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,
I’m writing to strongly recommend that every member of our community get a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster shot now to protect yourself, your family and friends, and fellow members of the Georgetown community over the holidays and in the new year, rather than wait until the University’s booster shot requirement takes effect on January 21, 2022. Emerging research shows that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible even among fully vaccinated individuals, and the Moderna and Pfizer booster shots provide important protection from serious illness and hospitalization.
We have entered a new phase of the pandemic. The positivity rate on our campuses last week was the highest we have ever seen, which is consistent with dramatic increases in cases locally and nationally. Earlier today, Mayor Bowser announced the District of Columbia’s COVID-19 Action Plan, including the declaration of a state of emergency and the reinstatement of its indoor mask mandate, effective tomorrow morning.
We anticipate cases will keep increasing across the country over the next few weeks, given the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. We must continue to protect and care for one another by taking the following actions:
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot with an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) as soon as you are eligible (i.e., 2 months after Johnson & Johnson vaccination, or 6 months after your second dose of the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or other WHO-approved vaccine).
- I strongly recommend that you get a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNtech booster shot because recent research indicates these mRNA boosters provide greater protection against the Omicron variant than other vaccines. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, with a clinical preference for people to receive an mRNA vaccine (e.g., Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech).
- Pharmacies throughout the country and near our campuses have booster shot appointments available. Please visit Vaccines.gov to find the closest vaccination site to you.
- As a reminder, staff/AAP employees may use COVID-19 Vaccination Paid Time Off for their booster shot appointment and to recover from any short-term side effects of the vaccine.
- Please upload documentation of your booster shot via the GU360 mobile app or GU360 website.
- Wear the highest-grade mask available (e.g., N95, KN95) indoors in public spaces.
- Avoid large gatherings.
- Stay home if you have symptoms, and report them to the Public Health team by completing the COVID-19 Symptom Check-In survey.
- Get tested if you have symptoms.
- Free on-campus COVID-19 testing is available on many days during the winter break. Please visit the COVID-19 Testing Protocol page for more information about our testing schedule.
- Free COVID-19 testing is also available at various sites in the District of Columbia. Maryland and Virginia also have information about local testing sites on their websites.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 while you are away from campus during the winter break, please notify our Care Navigator team by emailing a copy of your test result to email@example.com.
- It is important to report your test result because a recent COVID-19 infection may affect your arrival testing requirement for the spring semester.
- Consult the CDC’s tips for safer ways to celebrate the holidays.
We are continuing to monitor public health conditions and will provide more information soon about the start of spring semester activities.
I know that we were all looking forward to a more “normal” holiday season and winter break, and this latest turn of events is the last thing any of us wanted. But I am confident that our community will continue to take the steps necessary to protect one another, and I am grateful for all the ways in which, in the spirit of the season, we are caring for each other during this difficult time.
Ranit Mishori, M.D., MHS, FAAFP
Professor of Family Medicine, Vice President and Chief Public Health Officer