1. Campus COVID-19 Update: Weekend safety, case trends, booster shots

    October 29, 2021

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    COVID-19 cases among students have consistently remained at a lower level in recent weeks. However, cases among faculty and staff remain at an elevated level and have been increasing slightly week to week. Case investigation has linked these cases to exposures in the home and within the external community. We urge everyone to continue caution with respect to COVID-19 transmission both on campus and off. Trends that continue include:

    • Our wastewater surveillance continues to show low COVID-19 activity on and around the campus.
    • The students who were seen by the University Health Service this past week for COVID-19 exhibited mild symptoms.
    • U-M vaccination rates continue to increase, with 97 percent of students, 98 percent of faculty, and 89 percent of staff fully vaccinated.

    I urge everyone to stay safe as the football game between U-M and Michigan State and Halloween are both happening this weekend. Student Life, Athletics leaders, and students from both campuses (along with Sparty!) have shared messages and tips for staying safe. Student Life has also shared safe Halloween ideas and information on cultural appropriation and celebrating Halloween respectfully.

    This past week, a higher percentage of student emergency department visits were related to mental health and alcohol than in prior weeks. So please reach out and ask for help if you need it. The university offers many resources through our Counseling and Psychological Services and information on alcohol and other drugs through UHS.

    Here are some additional updates at a glance:

    Booster shots and third doses: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommendations for use of a single COVID-19 vaccine booster dose after completion of a primary series. We’ve updated the Campus Maize and Blueprint site’s FAQ on booster shots, and Michigan Medicine has additional COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs. Michigan Medicine also has information on scheduling shots, boosters, and third doses for individuals with compromised immunity.

    Vaccine update for 5- to 11-year-olds: Michigan Medicine is preparing to administer the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The Food and Drug Administration this week authorized emergency use of the vaccine for this age group, and on Nov. 3, the CDC is expected to provide recommendations on how health providers should administer the vaccine to the pediatric population. Our C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has additional information about how parents can prepare for this important new development.

    Vaccine compliance: As announced earlier this week, employees out of compliance with the university’s COVID-19 vaccination policy will face additional accountability measures. These take effect Nov. 8 for staff and at the end of the academic semester for faculty.

    Flu shots: Flu shots are available to employees whether you’re working on site or remotely, and UHS makes it easy for students to get a flu shot on campus. Michigan Medicine family medicine physician Pamela Rockwell discusses the importance of flu vaccination in a Health Blog post, as we expect to see greater numbers of cases following a year of fewer in-person interactions. Flu vaccines have been an indispensable tool for protecting individuals for decades. Our Heritage Project has examined U-M’s role in bringing this life-saving intervention to the public.

    I will continue to provide COVID-19 updates when needed to help keep everyone informed, address concerns and respond to feedback and questions from our community. You also may read the University Record for the latest stories and the Campus Maize and Blueprint site for updates.

    Sincerely,

    Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
    President