Emory Healthcare has delivered around 30,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, 7,600 of which were given to “University employees, faculty, staff or students,” CEO of Emory Healthcare Jonathan Lewin said at a virtual University town hall on Jan. 21.

Emory is still in phase 1A of vaccinations, which prioritizes health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, emergency personnel, and those aged 65 and older. Emory cannot move beyond tier 1A until the state allows it to do so.

Associate Vice President and Executive Director for COVID-19 Response and Recovery Amir St. Clair addresses questions at the Jan. 21 virtual town hall. (The Emory Wheel)

Students who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, including medical and nursing students who interact with patients, must still participate in the onboarding process and undergo weekly testing. Most other students will fall within phase 2 of vaccinations, which comes after phases 1A, 1B and 1C, according to Lewin.

University President Gregory L. Fenves and Associate Vice President and Executive Director for COVID-19 Response and Recovery Amir St. Clair addressed questions about the vaccine at the town hall.

St. Clair explained that the University has not yet determined how it will define essential personnel, and Fenves stated that the University has not yet made a decision on whether faculty and staff will fall under the definition of “educators” for the purpose of including them in phase 1B vaccinations. Phase 1B consists of non-healthcare essential workers “who perform job tasks across critical infrastructure sectors,”according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The speed at which Emory Healthcare can distribute vaccines is dependent on the number of doses available and how the state of Georgia decides to allocate its vaccine supply.

“We can actually vaccinate about 3,500 a day,” Lewin said, “but the problem is, we don’t have that much vaccine right now.”

St. Clair emphasized that weekly testing and continuing to adhere to safety guidelines remain essential to maintaining a safe campus, even for those who have received a vaccine.

“It’s a both-and strategy, not an either-or. We want you to get the vaccine and keep practicing these important safety protocols,” St. Clair said.

Lewin pointed out that it is currently unknown whether the vaccine prevents the individual from transmitting the virus to others.

“We really don’t know yet, could you still spread the disease [after being vaccinated],” Lewin said. “We hope to have that answer sometime coming up in the near future.”

Lewin encouraged audience members to visit Emory Healthcare’s COVID-19 vaccine FAQ page for the latest information. 

Spring COVID-19 Policies

The University provided updates on new COVID-19 policies for the spring semester in a Jan. 19 student-wide email.

Although Emory’s “gathering risk meter” is still in the orange category, it has shifted closer to red due to COVID-19’s stress on the health care system in Georgia. All recreation centers will be closed and indoor gatherings of any size will not be allowed until Feb. 8. 

In-person offices, classes and labs will continue to be in-person. Outdoor gatherings of up to ten people will be allowed as long as faculty or staff members are present.

Emory has also expanded the number of locations where students can get tested and the hours available from appointments. In the spring, students will be able to get tested Monday through Friday at the Woodruff Physical Education Center, the Emory Conference Center Hotel, the Student Activity and Academic Center at Clairmont Campus, and at Whatcoat Street Building at Oxford.