A vaccination record card resting on top of a mask near a syringe.

Messages

  • April 13, 2021, With switch to Pfizer vaccine, clinics open up to entire WMU community and remain as scheduled

    Dear WMU community,

    Due to today's announcement that the FDA and CDC recommend pausing the administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, Sindecuse Health Center will instead be administering the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at our already-scheduled clinics this week.

    As planned, the clinics will be held at the Student Recreation Center on Wednesday, April 14, from noon to 4 p.m. and on Thursday, April 15, from 8 a.m. to noon.

    We are grateful to the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department for providing Pfizer's vaccine to Sindecuse in light of the developments regarding the Johnson & Johnson product.

    If you previously scheduled an appointment for Wednesday or Thursday and are willing to receive the Pfizer vaccine, you do not need to make any changes. However, you must be willing and available to return in 21 days to complete the vaccine series. Your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be scheduled at the time of your first appointment.

    If you are not willing or able to return for a second dose, please cancel your appointment in the Sindecuse patient portal immediately. It’s critical that we do not waste vaccines.

    Though the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was state-mandated to be prioritized for students, there is no such limitation on our administration of the Pfizer vaccine. This allows us to offer vaccination to any student, faculty and staff member who wants to make an appointment for this week’s clinics. This vaccine is approved for individuals who are 16 years old and older. Make your appointment right away using the patient portal.

    There is no out-of-pocket charge for vaccinations administered during the clinics. Sindecuse collects insurance information and bills insurance as a normal part of our practice to recover costs from insurance companies. WMU will cover any cost not covered by insurance related to COVID-19 vaccination. All students—including out-of-state and international students—can be vaccinated regardless of their insured status.
     
    Important information about the vaccination clinics at the Student Recreation Center:

    • You should arrive at the clinic entrance five minutes before your appointed time.  
    • You’ll be screened for symptoms and expected to show a cleared green badge for identification.
    • Allow 45 minutes for your appointment, which will include waiting 15 to 30 minutes after receiving a dose so we can monitor you for adverse reaction.
    • Your second dose will be scheduled on-site.
    • Wear loose-sleeved upper clothing so nurses can easily access your shoulder.
    • Parking will be limited in Lot 13; walk, if you can.
    • The entrance to the clinic is across from the parking lot.
    • These clinics are by appointment only. Walk-ins are not allowed.

    If you have a vaccination appointment scheduled at another provider and wish to reserve an appointment at WMU's vaccination clinic instead, remember to cancel the other appointment if you are still within the allowable time to do so.

    Thank you,

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    WMU Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • April 12, 2021, State provides vaccine for student-prioritized, on-campus clinics April 14, 15

    Dear WMU community,
     
    As part of a state program designed to immunize Michigan’s college students, Sindecuse Health Center is offering two by-appointment-only COVID-19 student vaccination clinics at the Student Recreation Center this week.

    The clinics are set to take place from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday, April 15.

    Western received a supply of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, a safe and effective vaccine that has the additional advantage of being a single-shot inoculation. This vaccine is approved for individuals who are 18 years old and older.

    For this particular round of vaccinations, students are prioritized as required by a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services initiative. To schedule an appointment, use Sindecuse's secure online patient portal.

    If students do not fill all the available appointments, we will notify faculty and staff that doses are available. As vaccine supply and state and local health officials permit, we plan to offer future vaccination clinics that will include faculty and staff.

    Other options for COVID-19 vaccination include the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department and area store pharmacies, including Meijer.

    There is no out-of-pocket charge for vaccinations administered during the clinics. Sindecuse Health Center collects insurance information and bills insurance as a normal part of our practice to recover costs from insurance companies. WMU will cover any cost not covered by insurance related to COVID-19 vaccination. All students—including out-of-state and international students—will be given the vaccine regardless of their insured status.
     
    Important information about this week’s vaccination clinics at the Student Recreation Center:

    • You should arrive at the clinic entrance five minutes before your appointed time.  
    • You’ll be screened for symptoms and expected to show a cleared green badge for identification.
    • Allow 45 minutes for your appointment, which will include waiting 15 to 30 minutes after receiving a dose so we can monitor you for adverse reaction.
    • Wear loose-sleeved upper clothing so nurses can easily access your shoulder.
    • Parking will be limited in Lot 13; walk, if you can.
    • The entrance to the clinic is across from the parking lot.
    • These clinics are by appointment only. Walk-ins are not allowed.

    If you have a vaccination appointment scheduled at another provider and wish to reserve an appointment at WMU's vaccination clinic instead, remember to cancel the other appointment if you are still within the allowable time to do so.

    Thank you,

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    WMU Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • April 5, 2021, Get your shot: COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands to all adults

    Dear WMU community,

    Beginning today, the state of Michigan has expanded COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to encompass all adults. Anyone who is at least 16 years old can receive a vaccine. We urge you to pursue immunization soon, wherever is convenient. You can access your county health department’s vaccine information through the state’s COVID-19 response website.

    Store pharmacies, including Meijer and Rite Aid, also are administering vaccines. We will notify everyone when Sindecuse Health Center is allotted a supply that will allow it to vaccinate campus community members.

    For more information about the vaccine, visit the frequently asked questions section on the University’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage.

    Expanded vaccination offers great hope for eventually ending the pandemic. Get vaccinated as soon as possible, and continue following COVID-19 safety practices—masking, physical distancing, frequently washing hands and avoiding large crowds. In time, these collective efforts will return our community to the normalcy we all desire.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Sincerely,

    Kara Wood
    Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team chair

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

    Lt. Andrew Bachmann
    WMU Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • March 16, 2021, Approved as a COVID-19 vaccine site, health center awaits first shipment

    Dear WMU community,
     
    I’m pleased to share that Sindecuse Health Center has secured approval to be a COVID-19 vaccination site, and we await our first shipment of vaccines. When our shipment will arrive, the quantity available and the FDA-authorized vaccine we will receive are outside of our control, but we look forward to immunizing current students, employees and WMU health-plan retirees as soon as possible. When the health center receives the COVID-19 vaccine—which could be days from now or weeks away—we have a process in place to administer it based on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services phasing strategy. 
     
    We thank the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department for working with us to schedule appointments for WMU community members to be vaccinated through the county's clinics over the past several months. With vaccines becoming available in more places, we're now moving into a period of transition. We're excited to begin vaccinating WMU community members on campus when our shipment of vaccines is here. Health center staff will be contacting some 5,000 current students, employees and University health-plan retirees who responded to the COVID-19 Vaccination Phasing Assessment, which was first issued in January. The appeals form to indicate your interest in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine through WMU will be available through Friday, March 19. If you have already responded and received a confirming message about your phase eligibility, there is no need to submit this form again. 

    WMU is one of many avenues to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. We encourage you to register at other sites as well, but remember to take your name off those registration lists once you receive the vaccine. It is also important that you make an appointment only at one site to avoid missed appointments and wasted vaccines. 

    Vaccinations phasing

    The speed of COVID-19 vaccine distribution at WMU will depend heavily on the rate of supply over a period of time. When Sindecuse receives its vaccine supply, starting with those who took the phasing assessment, we will move through phases in the sequence delineated by the state—phase 1A (critical health care workers), phase 1B (front-line workers and individuals age 65 and up), phase 1C (populations at high risk of severe illness and those age 50 and up). We will next vaccinate phasing assessment respondents in phase 2 (all individuals 16 years or older). As a first step to scheduling a vaccination, health center staff will contact those eligible by secure message through the patient portal. 

    Once we have vaccinated all those who completed the phasing assessment, appointment times will be open to other current students, employees and health-plan retirees as supply allows. Individuals in these categories—current students, employees and health-plan retirees—will be prioritized before any other groups are vaccinated at Sindecuse. As supply increases, we anticipate opening eligibility to spouses and dependents of students and employees.
       
    Already vaccinated?

    Students and employees who took our phasing survey may have received a vaccine somewhere other than the county health department. If you would like to report receiving a vaccination elsewhere, send an email to health@sindecuse.com to let us know you no longer need to be scheduled. 

    We’re excited to serve the campus community as a vaccination site. This is another hopeful step in the fight against COVID-19. Please continue to help curb the spread of the virus. Even after vaccination, wear your mask in public, maintain social distance and wash your hands frequently. 

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Thank you,

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • March 5, 2021, Update to state's gathering rules, variant detected in campus community

    Dear WMU community,

    Today, we have an update on campus quarantine and isolation protocols, information on vaccine phasing and how new adjustments to the state’s epidemic rules for gatherings impact the campus, including meetings of Registered Student Organizations.

    In a message last week, Dr. Gayle Ruggiero, medical director, explained that if we discover a campus community member has contracted the more infectious variant of COVID-19, known as B.1.1.7, the University would follow more stringent quarantine and isolation procedures.

    Results from a specimen tested for the variant showed a positive for this new strain in a student. This person has no in-person classes and lives off campus but had a travel history, which is one of the circumstances that triggers testing for the B.1.1.7 variant. However, out of an abundance of caution and as we’ve previously indicated, we will now operate under the assumption that this strain is widespread. Other specimens are pending with the state’s Bureau of Laboratories.

    Under our isolation and quarantine rules, anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days, and their close contacts will be required to quarantine for 14 days and should be tested five days after exposure.

    Please continue to practice all of the required behaviors to guard against the coronavirus, including masking, keeping physical distance and getting tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to a positive case.

    Vaccine phasing 

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has expanded the pool of residents eligible for vaccination. Beginning Monday, March 8, those age 50 and older who have medical conditions or disabilities and caregiver family members or guardians who care for children with special health care needs are now eligible. Beginning Monday, March 22, any resident who is 50 or older will be eligible. Please note scheduling vaccinations is subject to the county’s clinic plan and vaccine availability. If you completed the COVID-19 Vaccine Phasing Assessment through Sindecuse Health Center, you have done what is necessary to be “in line” for a vaccine administered by Kalamazoo County.

    If you did not complete the phasing assessment through Sindecuse but want to get a vaccine organized by Sindecuse and county health officials, follow this link to submit an appeals form. After a short review, a phasing assessment will be issued to those who have not yet completed one. Other appeals are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and responses are sent within five business days.

    Though county officials are administering vaccines, the health center's role has been to assist by forwarding the names of current students, faculty, staff and University health-plan retirees who complete the confidential assessment. Nearly 6,000 Broncos, primarily students, have participated in the assessment.

    Updated rules on gatherings

    The state health department has updated its rules on gatherings in residential and nonresidential settings, effective today through April 19, 2021. For any gathering, people should continue to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance and properly wear a mask. Sanctions remain in place for campus community members who violate the University’s safety protocols.

    Under these rules at WMU:

    • WMU employees who can perform their duties remotely should continue to do so to the fullest extent possible, though some duties must be performed on campus. Managers and supervisors remain the point of contact for questions about work arrangements.
     
    • In nonresidential settings, indoor gathering is permitted when no more than 25 people are assembled, which means Registered Student Organizations and other groups can now meet in the Bernhard Center in groups of up to 25. Group size, participants, room capacities and adherence to masking and physical distancing will be monitored. 
     
    • At residential venues, indoor gatherings are permitted when 15 or fewer individuals congregate, comprising no more than three households.
     
    • Outdoor gatherings at residential settings are permitted when 50 or fewer individuals are together.
     
    • WMU Dining Services continues to offer indoor dining. People must sit at tables and maintain 6 feet of distance from other diners. Members of a household (roommates or suitemates), however, may share a table. Tables must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart. Grab ‘n’ go services will continue as indicated at dining locations.
     
    • Waldo Library remains open but must not exceed 50% capacity, up from 30%.
     
    • The Student Recreation Center remains open for personal workouts, drop-in sports, various single-person sporting events and in-person and virtual fitness classes. Capacity is limited to 30%, up from 25%. Check wmich.edu/rec for additional details.

    Thank you for complying with the University’s as well as the state’s health and safety protocols. Though some limitations have been loosened, this is not a license to become lax. Be all the more vigilant about engaging in those personal habits that protect yourself and those around you. COVID-19 continues to be a health threat.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Sincerely,

    Kara Wood
    Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team chair

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

    Lt. Andrew Bachmann
    WMU Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • Feb. 15, 2021, Take vaccine phasing assessment, resist COVID-19 safety fatigue

    Dear WMU community,
     
    Well done! Nearly 5,000 of you have taken the COVID-19 Vaccine Phasing Assessment in Sindecuse Health Center’s secure patient portal.

    While Kalamazoo County health officials are administering immunizations, Western’s health center is assisting by forwarding for vaccination scheduling the names of current students, faculty, staff and University health plan retirees who have participated in the confidential phasing assessment.

    We encourage you to click here to access and complete the assessment as soon as possible. Doing so puts you on the list to be immunized through the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department based on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ vaccination phases—1A, 1B, 1C and 2.

    To learn more about the state's vaccine phases and Western’s role in vaccination efforts, visit wmich.edu/vaccine. The site also has a section featuring frequently asked questions, including why you should take the phasing assessment and what health experts say about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines in use in the United States.

    Virulent strain of COVID-19 in Kalamazoo
    Widespread vaccination will help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are far from that point today. The virus continues to be a serious health threat.

    Recent news that a more infectious variant of COVID-19 has been found in Kalamazoo County is a sobering reminder that we must not become lax in our efforts to slow the spread by following safety practices. The variant B.1.1.7, which was first reported in the United Kingdom, has quickly made its way across the globe. Kalamazoo County health officials identified four residents infected with this new strain. Some have no travel history, indicating community spread.
     
    It's more important, not less, to wear a mask, practice physical distancing, maintain excellent hand hygiene, avoid crowds and get tested at Sindecuse at the earliest sign of COVID-19 symptoms. And, if you’re coming to campus, take the daily health survey.
     
    State rules regulating gatherings, mask usage
    Though some restrictions have been modified, such as those for sports participants, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services still maintains its epidemic order regulating gatherings and face mask use in residential and non-residential settings. The state’s current order is in effect through Monday, March 29.

    For more information on how regulations impact WMU, visit the Work and Play Outside of Class section of the University’s Safe Return Plan. Among other directives, Registered Student Organizations should continue to meet virtually and employees must work remotely to the maximum degree possible.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Kara Wood
    Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team chair
     
    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair
     
    Lt. Andrew Bachmann
    WMU Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • Jan. 28, 2021, Spring semester update from COVID-19 Response Coordination Team

    Dear colleagues,

    A little more than one week has elapsed since our return to in-person learning at WMU. Thank you for adhering to those habits, procedures and processes in place to keep campus a safe and healthy environment in which to learn and work. 

    As part of the University’s ongoing pandemic response, we are committed to keeping you informed. We write today with a few reminders and to clarify that employees scheduled for COVID-19 vaccination may do so during work hours without using leave time this year.

    We all want our campus community to remain safe. Remember to wear your masks and maintain physical distance from others. It is also important to complete the health survey each day you are on campus. 

    Vaccination efforts to date
    Thank you to those who have taken the COVID-19 Vaccine Phasing Assessment administered by Sindecuse Health Center to confidentially provide Kalamazoo County health officials with contact information for eligible students, faculty and staff who qualify in each vaccination phase based on the state's guidelines.

    When invited for a vaccination appointment, please make arrangements to show up at your scheduled time. As an employee, you are permitted to get your COVID-19 vaccination during work hours. While you won't need to claim leave time for the appointment for your first or second COVID-19 vaccine this year, inform your supervisor to allow for coverage of duties in your absence. If the appointment is outside work hours, you may not claim overtime. 

    To learn more about WMU’s vaccine response efforts to date and for a link to the phasing assessment, information is available at wmich.edu/vaccine.

    Cleaning on campus
    Custodial staff remain on top of cleaning procedures throughout the University. They are using specialized tools and products, such as electrostatic disinfecting equipment and Aqueous Ozone. They continue their increased focus and intensity on high-touch areas in our buildings, such as light switches and door knobs. Custodial staff also provide additional cleaning in high-use buildings and restrooms.
     
    In classrooms, when there is a scheduled minimum 30-minute gap between classes, custodians clean those spaces. If there is less than 30 minutes of scheduled gap time between classes, sanitizer wipes are available for students and faculty to clean their own workspaces, as the gap is not long enough to allow cleaning by custodial staff. 

    Ventilation systems
    Facilities Management has implemented best management practices for building HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and ASHRAE (HVAC professional organization) recommendations. These include:

    • Adjusting applicable HVAC systems to increase the amount of air brought into a building to improve the indoor environment (two times the normal rate). Facilities Management staff have already accomplished this by increasing outside air through damper adjustments and temporarily suspending Demand Control Ventilation.
    • Where possible, we are maintaining a relative humidity between 40% and 60%, which reduces the potential for transmission and has a positive influence on immune systems.
    • All building HVAC systems increase ventilation two hours before spaces are occupied. 
    • HVAC filtration systems are changed regularly by professional mechanics using proper personal protective equipment.

    Learn more about cleaning protocols and building systems and air handling modifications at WMU's Safe Return Plan website under Health and Safety at WMU.

    We appreciate you for taking the time to read this update. A critical part of staying safe during this period of pandemic requires also staying informed.

    Be smart. Be safe. Be Broncos.

    Sincerely,

    Kara Wood
    Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team chair

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

    Lt. Andrew Bachmann
    WMU Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • Jan. 15, 2021, Take the COVID-19 Vaccine Phasing Assessment

    Dear campus community,
     
    I recently sent a message informing you that, in partnership with Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department (KCHCS), WMU’s Sindecuse Health Center began collecting the names of phase 1A-eligible faculty, staff and students who fit the criteria to receive the COVID-19 vaccine based on state guidelines. 

    We are now ready to have all students, faculty and staff complete the survey to assess for which phase they are eligible. We anticipate KCHCS could request our list of 1B-eligible individuals soon.

    Find the COVID-19 Vaccine Phasing Assessment in the Sindecuse Patient Portal under "survey forms" in your secure personal electronic health record. This information is kept confidential in accordance with federal health privacy law. To provide complete contact information, it’s important to have a mobile phone number defined in the portal. While you are in the portal, navigate to “Profile” and update your contact information.
     
    Individuals are being vaccinated according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services stipulated phases—1A, 1B, 1C and 2. To understand how the state defines phases and eligibility, please consult the state’s website or wmich.edu/vaccine for more information. Phasing eligibility is subject to change at local and state officials' discretion.

    While Sindecuse is not giving vaccinations—a process overseen locally by KCHCS and area health systems—we are administering phasing assessment to confidentially provide the county health department with contact information for eligible campus community members who qualify in each phase. Scheduling will be based on availability of vaccine supplies. As vaccine availability allows, names of individuals may also be confidentially shared with clinical providers, such as area health systems, if these additional points of service become available. 
     
    My thanks to the many 1A-eligible Broncos who have already completed the assessment. If you are 1A eligible and have not yet done so, please complete the form as soon as possible.
     
    Though the county is only vaccinating 1A-eligible individuals at this time, health officials could request the names of 1B-eligible students, faculty or staff at any time. For those who fit the 1B category, you are also encouraged to complete the assessment as soon as possible.  

    We encourage all faculty, staff and those retirees participating in WMU health insurance to complete the survey at your convenience. Though it's unclear when vaccines will be available for latter phases of eligibility, particularly 1C and 2, it is still helpful to complete the survey. As we learn more about vaccination supply, scheduling and phasing, we will continue to keep the campus community informed.

    Note: We have not been asked to gather names of your spouses or dependents at this time. We understand this may be inconvenient and ask you not to complete the survey if you prefer to receive vaccination at the same time as a family member. For those 65 and older and not directly associated with Western, Kalamazoo County is inviting residents to fill out this form asking to be on the wait list for the vaccine. If you live in another county, please consult your local health department’s website. 
     
    While the vaccine is critical in the fight against COVID-19, it also remains critical you protect yourself and those around you from infection by wearing a mask, washing your hands, maintaining social distance and avoiding crowds. And if you have active symptoms or have been exposed to a positive case, get tested.
     
    Sindecuse is offering a drive-thru testing event by appointment only today and Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 19 to 21, from 8:15 a.m. to noon each day. Current students, faculty and staff can sign up using the patient portal.
     
    Stay safe, Broncos!
     
    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    WMU Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

  • Jan. 9, 2021, Vaccine update: Seeking phase 1A-eligible Broncos

    Dear campus community,

    In partnership with Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services (KCHCS), Sindecuse Health Center is collecting the names of phase 1A-eligible faculty, staff and students who fit the criteria to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time. Once verified by Sindecuse staff, names of 1A-eligible individuals will be provided to health department officials. Scheduling will be based on availability of vaccine supplies. As vaccine availability allows, names of individuals may also be confidentially shared with clinical providers, such as local hospitals, if additional points of service are identified.

    Verifying 1A eligibility requires us to collect some personal health information in our confidential and secure electronic health record system. Consistent with federal law, this information will be kept confidential within Sindecuse, the health department and clinical providers.

    In accordance with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) guidelines, those eligible for vaccination in phase 1A are “paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home as well as residents in long-term care facilities.” Find a more detailed list of work settings below my signature.

    Western Michigan University has identified a list of individuals who may meet the phase 1A criteria. If you receive a message from Sindecuse Health Center with the subject line “Important Patient Survey,” please complete the survey by Monday at 5 p.m. You are encouraged to complete the survey regardless of whether you plan to be vaccinated, have been vaccinated or do not plan to be vaccinated. This step must be completed before an individual’s name can be advanced to the health department.

    We have compiled a comprehensive list of individuals who are likely to be 1A eligible. They will receive the survey in the next 24 hours. However, it is possible that some individuals contacted by Sindecuse will not qualify for eligibility. The purpose of the survey is to verify eligibility in a secure environment. Please do not call Sindecuse regarding your potential 1A eligibility. Our staff is focused on testing and providing our high standard of care for patients. I appreciate your understanding and teamwork.

    What’s next:

    MDHHS provided initial distribution guidance in mid-December. That guidance was updated just this week. KCHCS continues to prioritize phase 1A-eligible individuals before opening eligibility to phase 1B individuals, defined as “persons 65 years of age or older and frontline workers in critical infrastructure.”

    We plan to soon make the patient survey available to the entire WMU community, which will enable us to communicate and act expeditiously as new phases expand eligibility. Please be aware a multitude of factors determine local vaccine availability, which at this time varies considerably across the state.

    If we work together, we can do our part to reach the state’s goal to vaccinate 70% or more of our population.

    Sincerely,

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

    Under the state's criteria, 1A-eligible individuals are workers in the following settings in a paid, volunteer or educational capacity (internship, externship or practicum):

    • Adult foster care centers.
    • Assisted-living and long-term care facilities.
    • Emergency departments.
    • Emergency medical services, including medical first responders.
    • General medical floor.
    • Home health care workers caring for high-risk clients with large patient loads (e.g., people with a tracheostomy or ventilator at home).
    • Homes for aged.
    • Intensive care units.
    • Psychiatric hospitals.
    • Skilled nursing facilities.
    • Those with direct patient contact who conduct high-risk procedures (e.g., dentistry, endoscopy or dialysis).
    • Those who have direct patient contact, including outpatient, urgent care, ambulatory care and home health care.
    • Those who have indirect patient contact with specialized skills critical to health care system functioning (e.g., hospital and public health laboratories and pharmacies).
  • Dec. 18, 2020, COVID-19 vaccine: What to expect

    Dear campus community,

    We are wrapping up the year with anticipation and hope for 2021 brought by the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine. Front-line medical workers across the country have begun to receive vaccine doses this week. As we move toward the holiday recess, we want to provide some information about what to expect regarding vaccinations in the coming year.

    The goals and prioritization for vaccinations are established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department (KCHCS).

    These health experts aim to vaccinate at least 70% of the population in 2021. By early January, they are estimating 10 million doses to be administered nationally each week. They expect that figure to double to 20 million per week around late February or early March. With a U.S. population of 330 million, public health agencies have established the following phased, prioritized approach:

    • Phase 1A has started and prioritizes almost exclusively those who work in health care settings, prioritizing first within the phase those who work directly with patients.
    • Phase 1B could start as early as January, prioritizing workers who are essential to continue critical industry infrastructure across Michigan.
    • Phase 1C could begin in February, focusing on individuals at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions and people 65 years and older.
    • Phase 2 could begin in early April, making vaccines widely available to all other adults.

    Prioritization and phasing has been determined by federal, state and local health agencies with little control or discretion afforded to businesses or public sector organizations like Western. As Michigan moves through the phases, we will work with KCHCS to identify specific Western populations in each phase that may be included in vaccination eligibility. Please be aware vaccinations are being administered through numerous health care access points and the phases will overlap.

    Here on campus, our front-line Sindecuse Health Center medical workers are starting their vaccinations, in accordance with the phasing and directives from KCHCS. We also continue our close communication and coordination with KCHCS to ensure we have the latest information. As vaccines become available to larger populations, perhaps in phase 1C, we will begin to work with the health department to provide vaccines on campus as their protocols and availability allow.

    The vaccine has been developed through a rigorous protocol and has been determined to be safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration. We encourage all members of the WMU community to get vaccinated for COVID-19. You can find more information on the MDHHS website.

    Clarifying Quarantine Window

    In recent weeks, there has been considerable news coverage about the CDC lowering the number of days for quarantine down to seven following a negative coronavirus test result or 10 days without testing. Along with these updated standards, the CDC advised following local health authorities because these officials make "the final decisions about how long quarantine should last based on local conditions and needs." Both the MDHHS and KCHCS recommend a 10-day quarantine period for COVID-19 positive and exposed individuals, a standard WMU has adopted.

    Thank you to everyone who has stepped up this year, followed the public health guidance, gotten tested and taken initiative to care for your fellow Broncos. With the vaccine, there is an end in sight. But we cannot let our guard down yet. Remain vigilant. Stay safe. And have a wonderful holiday recess.

    Sincerely,

    Kara Wood
    Associate Vice President for Community Partnerships
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team chair

    Gayle Ruggiero, M.D.
    Medical Director
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair

    Lt. Andrew Bachmann
    WMU Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management
    COVID-19 Response Coordination Team co-chair