January 14, 2021
Dear Members of the Boston University Community,
The new year is with us. I, like many of you, have never been so pleased to turn the page on the calendar. We are starting the spring semester after a holiday intersession like no other we have experienced. Many have spent the holidays isolated from our closest family members and friends, especially away from those who are most vulnerable, so as to prevent the spread of the virus. And today the infection rate in Massachusetts is at least as high as when we departed campus at the end of fall term.
Although COVID-19 will continue to make the first months of 2021 challenging, the beginning of vaccine distribution is a hopeful light at the end of what has been a dark journey.
I am writing today to report that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has designated Boston University as a vaccination distribution center for our community—Boston University students, staff, and faculty. See the article in BU Today. With this designation, we will receive vaccine doses, as allocated by the state, to vaccinate members of our community according to the priority schedule prescribed by the state.
Our goal is to vaccinate as many members of our community as wish to be vaccinated. I recognize that some members of the community may be reluctant to be vaccinated because of personal convictions or individual medical issues or, also, concerns about the accelerated approval process. I have confidence in the science undergirding the development and approval process for the vaccines, and I plan to take the vaccine as soon as I am eligible. I very much hope that if you have particular concerns you will consider consulting with your primary care physician or with our campus healthcare providers who stand ready to respond to your questions and concerns.
We must recognize that we do not know yet the impact of vaccination of an individual on that person’s ability to transmit the disease to others. Consequently, vaccinated members of our community will still need to abide by all the public health and safety rules and the testing program put in place in fall of 2020.
The first 500 doses will be available to frontline healthcare workers on the Charles River Campus (Phase 1a, according to the state designation) beginning on Friday. Invitations will be sent to eligible personnel. Most MD faculty on the Medical Campus and medical students of the School of Medicine were already vaccinated over the previous several weeks under the auspices of Boston Medical Center, our primary teaching hospital.
Developing the facilities and processes to vaccinate the 45,000 members of our community is a complex task, with many logistical issues still to be worked out, including the number of doses the state determines we may receive—and when. Development and implementation will take many months, possibly lasting to the end of summer. We have already posted FAQs about the vaccination process on the Healthway website where we will also provide ongoing updates about our progress. You also can submit non-medical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we begin the spring semester, we mourn the loss of life and health already caused by COVID-19. We are all weary of the public health protocols we must follow and long for an end to the disruptions in our lives. Unfortunately, the spring semester does not offer us this possibility. I deeply appreciate the forbearance members of our community have shown as we work and wait, with informed hope, for the end of the pandemic.
Please stay safe and well.
Robert A. Brown