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COVID-19 Community Update: Feb. 3, 2021

The phased rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is now under way across Georgia, with Emory Healthcare playing a lead role in the ongoing fight to mitigate the virus.

To date, Emory Healthcare employees have administered more then 33,000 COVID-19 vaccines — that exceeds any other healthcare system in the state, making Emory one of Georgia’s primary vaccination centers.

Of those early vaccines, about 7,700 doses have been allocated to eligible faculty, staff and students — among the first wave of Emory community members now qualified to receive the vaccine under the Georgia Department of Public Health’s distribution plan.

Naturally, that’s left many of us wondering: Where can I get a vaccine? When will it be my turn?

To answer those questions, it’s important to know that Emory Healthcare’s vaccine plans must follow guidelines set by the state. At the moment, we are in Phase 1-A+ of Georgia’s statewide distribution plan, which first offers the vaccine to healthcare workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, as well as adults 65 and older and their caregivers. 

That means if you are an 1A eligible Emory Healthcare employee, a medical or nursing school student, a clinical student/staff member or lab technician, an EMS worker, dispatcher or 911 operator — or a long-term care facility resident/caregiver or Emory Healthcare patient 65 and over — you are eligible to make an appointment to receive a vaccine. 

When the state moves to 1B, Emory is ready. 

The state estimates that Georgia will move to Phase 1B in March. Emory is preparing for this phase through the work of our university vaccine planning group, which is moving forward with its vaccine distribution model for faculty and staff who may fit 1B eligibility criteria as we await further guidance from the state.

Emory’s vaccination model considers all members of our community who may be eligible in 1B — from our faculty and non-clinical researchers to our campus life and residential staff to our facilities and maintenance staff. Our distribution will be equitable across all eligible university populations. 

Access and availability

However, access to the vaccine hinges not only upon what statewide distribution phase we are in but also the overall availability of the new vaccine — and at the moment, supplies are limited. While Emory Healthcare has the capacity to vaccinate about 3,500 patients a day, the vaccine supply just isn’t there yet.

In time, supplies should improve. To help streamline the distribution process, Emory will be notifying you, via email, when vaccines are ready and available to you.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • As vaccines become available, you’ll receive an email from via the employee home system, a web-based portal that allows all Emory employees to make appointments and manage their occupational health requirements. (To make sure you haven’t already received a notification, check your junk folder.) 
  • At this time, Emory Healthcare vaccinations will be administered to eligible participants by appointment only at dedicated vaccine clinics. Vaccines are not available through Emory hospitals, outpatient clinics or physician offices.
  • Emory Healthcare is administering COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. Both vaccines are considered effective and have been tested through the same safety protocols. Receiving either vaccine is encouraged. 
  • To control the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that vaccinations must be paired with other prevention strategies. That means those who’ve been vaccinated must still wear face masks, practice physical distancing and wash their hands.

The goal is to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible. That means if vaccines are available to you through other providers — including the Georgia Department of Public Health or local pharmacies — please take advantage of them. 

Community partners for a healthy campus

When combined with our current protocols — regular testing, face masks, physical distancing and handwashing — vaccines will go far in helping us create a safe, healthy campus environment, with the goal of a full return to campus this fall.

That makes us all community partners, and everyone has a role to play:

  • For all students living in Emory residence halls or conducting classes, labs or research on campus this semester, that will include weekly COVID-19 screening tests.
  • Given our expanded testing capacity, faculty and staff who are asymptomatic and have completed the onboarding process are encouraged to test weekly, as capacity allows.  
  • Emory is providing three types of COVID-19 testing: onboarding testing (for move-in or accessing campus); screening testing (for asymptomatic community members); and diagnostic testing (for anyone who shows symptoms or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive). 
  • Students who are symptomatic or discover they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 should visit the Atlanta campus Student Health Portal or the Oxford College Student Health Portal and message the COVID assessment provider to schedule a diagnostic test.
  • Anyone required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing at Emory must still do so, even if you’ve already received a COVID-19 vaccine. After you are vaccinated, you will also still need to wear a face covering and practice physical distancing. 
  • Those who’ve previously tested positive for COVID-19 are still strongly encouraged and advised to receive the vaccine and continue following all standard safety protocols. 

As we move into a new semester, Emory will host an ongoing series of virtual town halls to discuss COVID-19 updates and developments. I urge you to join in the conversation.

For more information about COVID-19 testing, new gathering protocols, and answers to your vaccination questions, please visit the Emory Forward website.

Remember, Emory’s success requires the commitment and caring of everyone. 

Together, we can do this.

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