Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,
As a follow-up to my February 23 message, I am writing today to provide updates about the national and local rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
On February 27, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Janssen Biotech, which is part of Johnson & Johnson. This EUA allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years of age and older. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the third authorized vaccine in the United States. The FDA issued EUAs for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in December.
The EUA for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is an important development in our efforts to curb the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Whereas the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each require two doses, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine. This vaccine will expand our national supply of vaccines and increase accessibility, enabling more people to be vaccinated more quickly in the coming weeks and months.
The FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have found all three authorized vaccines to be safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.
I encourage all members of our community, when you become eligible, to get whichever vaccine is provided by your healthcare provider, or state or local government. The best way to protect yourself and one another is for as many eligible people to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
In the latest edition of “Georgetown This Week,” President DeGioia discusses the safety and benefits of getting any of the authorized vaccines with Dr. Jesse Goodman, director of the University’s Center on Medical Product Access, Safety and Stewardship (COMPASS). Dr. Goodman previously served as chief scientist for the FDA.
District of Columbia
Georgetown is partnering with the DC government to vaccinate as many District residents as quickly as possible. The University is coordinating one of DC’s new high-capacity vaccination sites in Ward 8 and recruiting dozens of clinical volunteers, including medical and nursing students, to administer vaccinations. The DC government is solely responsible for determining who is eligible to receive a vaccination at these sites and scheduling appointments for these sites. As a reminder, the University does not have its own supply or allotment of vaccines.
Beginning next week, the DC government will start using a pre-registration system for making vaccination appointments via a pre-registration website. As appointments are made available, individuals who have pre-registered will receive an email, phone call, or text message alerting them that they have an opportunity to make a vaccination appointment.
Maryland and Virginia
Maryland and Virginia have recently begun vaccinating certain frontline higher education employees. University employees who live in Maryland or Virginia should refer to their state and county’s vaccination websites to determine eligibility and, if eligible, to pre-register or schedule an appointment.
Many local counties have created their own pre-registration systems. Based on community feedback, we have added links for local county websites to the University’s COVID-19 Vaccines web page.
The District of Columbia has not yet designated higher education employees as a group that is eligible to be vaccinated. However, some University employees may be eligible to be vaccinated in DC based on their specific job duties, age, or qualifying medical condition.
Students who live in DC, Maryland, or Virginia may be eligible to be vaccinated if they have a qualifying medical condition or meet other eligibility criteria in their state.
I encourage you to check your state and county vaccination websites and consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you are eligible to be vaccinated at this time.
While studies show very high initial efficacy for the authorized vaccines in preventing COVID-19, complete protection is not guaranteed. It is also not yet known how long the protection will last and whether vaccines will keep you from transmitting infection to others. For these reasons, even after you have been vaccinated, please remain vigilant in following all health and safety guidance, including wearing a mask, keeping at least six feet apart, avoiding indoor social gatherings, respecting quarantine requirements, and meeting testing commitments.
We know the past year has been very challenging. The sooner we get our communities vaccinated, the sooner we may be able to reconvene our full Georgetown University community in person.
Thank you for your patience as we work toward that goal together.
Ranit Mishori, M.D., MHS, FAAFP
Professor of Family Medicine, Interim Chief Public Health Officer