Date: April 13, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Our last day of classes for the spring semester is Thursday, May 6. That’s 23 days from now. We are in the homestretch of the 2020-21 school year.

But we are not home yet. And what we do today, tomorrow, and next week matters – a lot.

Our numbers are going up.

On April 1, we had 12 students in isolation because of a positive test and 22 students in quarantine because they were close contacts of a positive case. Less than two weeks later, we have 23 students in isolation (with 10 positives yesterday alone) and 55 students in quarantine. 

As we enter our second year of COVID, we know there is a lot of pandemic fatigue in our state and on our campus. People are tired of masks, tired of social distancing, tired of things not being the way they used to be. 

Yet, we know that our COVID mitigation efforts work. We saw how our collective response at the start of the spring semester quickly brought the numbers down. 

So, as we look to finish the semester strong, please, hang in there.  Keep masking up, keep social distancing and, if you are able, get vaccinated as soon as you can (see below for important information on vaccinations, including the current Johnson and Johnson vaccine pause). We want to do everything we can to preserve our current ability to live and learn together in-person through the end of spring semester.

Also, report symptoms and seek testing early. It’s critical to slowing this spread.

Finally, in this season of Eastertide, the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, may we live with joy and run with perseverance the race that has been set before us, may we love and live for each other, knowing we serve a risen Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit in all that we do.

IMPORTANT THIS WEEK

  • Vaccine Update
  • Vaccination Openings at DeVos Place via Spectrum Health
  • Vaccination Status
  • Continue to Use #CampusClear

Vaccine Update

In light of today's CDC recommendation to pause the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, we have pivoted at Calvin Health Services, in cooperation with the Kent County Health Department, and will be offering the Moderna vaccine instead of Johnson and Johnson.

We have communicated directly with those who were signed up today and will also communicate with anyone who signed up for any future clinic dates. If you signed up for the vaccine through Health Services, please look for an email from Health Services soon with further instructions about how we will be proceeding.

You can make an appointment now to get Moderna vaccine from Calvin’s supply at: www.calvin.edu/go/covid-vaccine-clinic

Use the code ‘calvin21’ when you’re asked to provide an access code. Note that appointments for the vaccine are not being scheduled over the phone or by emailing Health Services.

Since Moderna is a two-shot vaccine (unlike the one-shot Johnson and Johnson), with the second dose to come 28 days after the first, this switch to Moderna produces some logistical challenges, especially for students who may be returning home prior to 28 days.

Please know that if you are a student, we encourage you to keep your appointment and receive the Moderna vaccine. By holding onto your documentation from the first dose, your local health department will know when to give your second dose in the proper time frame.

In terms of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, as of yesterday (April 12), almost seven million doses of the vaccine had been administered in the United States. The CDC and FDA currently are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare, literally one in a million.

At Calvin Health Services, there have only been reports of the more common side effects consistent with a normal, healthy immune system responding to any vaccine: sore arm, sometimes a fever, muscle aches, fatigue. These have typically started the next morning after inoculation and have lasted less than 12 hours, but on rare occasion the side effects lasted more than 36 hours.

Because treatment of the specific type of blood clot associated with the J & J vaccine is different from the treatment that might typically be administered, the CDC is convening a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices tomorrow (April 14) to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases.

Until that process is complete, the FDA is recommending the current pause. They note that this is important to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.

Because we have given Johnson and Johnson vaccine as part of our vaccination clinics, we will be working with all of the appropriate health authorities, including the FDA, the CDC, and our state and local health departments, to ensure that we are up-to-the-minute on this issue and able to work with our Calvin community to provide good, accurate information and healthcare.

An update today from the State of Michigan recommended that “people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.” Anyone who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at Calvin and might be experiencing any symptoms out of the ordinary, such as those outlined above, should contact Health Services at 616-526-6187, ext. 2.

Vaccination Openings at DeVos Place Via Spectrum Health

Vaccinate West Michigan at DeVos Place has openings this week for the Pfizer vaccine and that two-dose series has a booster at only 21 days. This may accommodate more out-of-town students who are leaving before mid-May. To sign up for the Pfizer vaccine this week, please use the Spectrum Health website (which has options for both Spectrum and non-Spectrum patients).

A reminder that students who are fully vaccinated can opt out of our weekly random surveillance screening clinics for students who do not have symptoms. Students who have been vaccinated and wish to opt out of weekly screenings should upload proof of vaccination to the COVID reporting form. Fully vaccinated students also do not need to quarantine if they are a close contact of a confirmed positive case.

Finally, a reminder that you should not make appointments at more than one place for your vaccine. Registering your interest at more than one place is fine but making multiple appointments to receive the vaccine is not appropriate and can cause real headaches for the place or places that must deal with cancelled appointments or, even worse, no-shows.

Vaccination Status

We have had some situations recently where people, not meaning any harm, have asked others about their vaccination status and/or have questioned in inappropriate ways why someone has not yet been vaccinated. Consider this a gentle reminder that this is not how we want to operate as a university when it comes to vaccinations.

As a Covid Response Team, we see vaccinations against COVID as a significant step toward a more normal life together. But there are both legal restrictions and basic expectations of privacy norms that come into play on this issue.

Legal restrictions govern things like asking about vaccination status or why someone chose to get vaccinated or not get vaccinated. In addition, there are reasons why people might not get vaccinated that they simply don't feel comfortable sharing, including things like an immunocompromised condition, a pregnancy, or other situations where privacy is expected and protected.

So, please, let’s exercise caution and restraint around the important topic of vaccinations now and during the rest of the semester together.

And rest assured that the university, as we move forward, will continue to develop proper processes and procedures that will help Calvin determine vaccination status of the community while honoring patient confidentiality.

Continue to Use #CampusClear

As COVID increases in Michigan, anyone with symptoms—no matter how mild—should report their symptoms through #CampusClear or the Health Services patient portal. Same-day testing appointments are available Monday-Friday for sick students and employees as indicated by CDC guidelines.

In addition, everyone should be using #CampusClear every day, even if you are fully vaccinated and even if you are not having symptoms. Please don’t fall away from this important practice as we enter the final full month of the semester.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay #CalvinStrong.

The COVID-Response Team

Kristen Alford

Jennifer Ambrose

Laura Champion

Phil de Haan

Todd Dornbos

Jim English

Todd Hubers (co-chair)

Brian Paige

Jane Prins

Sarah Visser (co-chair)

John Witte

Cindy Wolffis