Dear faculty, staff and students,

Since the COVID Incident Command Team started meeting shortly after the pandemic began, we have anxiously awaited the day that all our students, faculty and staff could be vaccinated and protected against this virus.

We are pleased that almost all of our community’s health care workers and first responders have had the opportunity to get the vaccine through Phase 1A and the first tier of Phase 1B of the state of Missouri’s distribution plan. Soon, some of our students who have been supporting medical efforts will be vaccinated.

Now, local and state public health leaders are planning for the next phases of vaccine distribution. The vaccine supply is extremely limited, and in order to begin more widespread vaccination, our public health teams must first receive additional vaccine supply. For example, while Missouri has authorized vaccinations through the first two tiers of Phase 1B, vaccinators are receiving a fraction of the supply needed to vaccinate millions of Missourians who fall into those priority tiers. Higher education faculty and staff who do not fall into risk categories are part of Phase 2.

The university does not control the flow of the vaccine – these decisions are made by federal, state and county officials. We talk frequently with these leaders to ensure we are up to date on the situation because we know our community is anxious to participate.

For many individuals under age 65 who don’t have chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, it could be quite some time until the vaccine is available. Most students will likely fall into Phase 3.

If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to fill out the vaccine survey offered through MU Health Care or Boone County. This is the best way to let public health leaders know which phase and tier you belong in and to ensure you receive information about availability.

At this time, there is not enough information to say if or when the CDC will stop recommending that people wear face coverings and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus. It is important that allmembers of the university community — even those who have been vaccinated – continue to engage in behaviors to limit the spread of the virus. It will remain important to wear a face covering over both the nose and mouth, maintain social distance, monitor symptoms with the #CampusClear app, and wash your hands regularly.

We are glad to see our students, faculty and staff back on campus, and we will continue to monitor the distribution of vaccines closely. Last semester proved that we have a strategy to mitigate spread of the virus and that through your diligence, we can successfully learn, work and live together. Once again, we ask for your continued efforts to protect yourself and others.

Please continue to check MU Health Care, county and state resources for updates on the vaccine as well as MU’s Show Me Renewal site.

We wish all of you a healthy and productive semester ahead.

Sincerely,

Mark Diedrich
Incident Commander, MU Incident Command Team
Director of Emergency Management, UM System

John Middleton
Operations Section Chief, MU COVID Incident Command Team
Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine