COVID 19

New Requirement – COVID vaccination

For ALL UMW students – you must submit either COVID vaccine documentation or a medical or religious waiver to move in and access UMW IT system.

Once you have had two doses of the Pfizer, or Moderna or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, please submit your information to the student portal.

  • Register first by clicking on the Yellow Student Portal tab at SHC website.  Register by using your UMW ID (banner#) and UMW email (___@mail.umw.edu).  Log in if already registered.
  • Once in the portal, go to upload and click on COVID vaccine Documentation and upload a copy of your immunization card. The image must be in .gif, .png, .tiff, .tif, .jpg, .jpeg and document must be .txt, .pdf

* If  the administration of the COVID vaccination is deemed to be detrimental to your health, then you can have your healthcare provider sign a Medical Waiver for COVID vaccine here.

* If the administration of immunizing agent conflict with your religious tenets or practices, then you can sign a religious waiver here. 

  Call the SHC if you have any questions. 

Information about COVID vaccinations:

The best defense we have against infectious diseases are vaccinations. Vaccines work to prevent disease, therefore lessening the possibility of transmission of serious disease to others.  Adverse reactions to vaccines are rare, and pose less risk than the adverse effects of the disease itself.  Vaccines are not proven effective for everyone, as each person’s body may react differently.  It is important to consult with your personal healthcare professional for guidance if you questions regarding the effects of vaccination on your health.   Possible side effects after getting a COVID vaccine are described here.   Common myths and facts about the COVID vaccine can be found here.

There are 3 vaccines available in the United States under Emergency Use Authorization:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech – MRNA vaccine – 2 shots separated by 21 days*
  • Moderna –  MRNA vaccine – 2 shots separated by 28days*
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen – 1 shot

* 2nd dose can be up to 42 days after 1st dose.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are vaccines that uses mRNA (messenger Ribonucleic Acid) to protect against infectious diseases.  Per CDC “researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades”.  See here for details.  mRNA has the code for the cell to make a protein (spike protein of the SARS coV 2 virus) that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.  None of the mRNA vaccines interact with or alter your DNA in any way.  mRNA can’t get into the nucleus where your DNA is.  It is not DNA and can’t be combined with your DNA to change your genetic code.  The mRNA is wrapped in a coating that makes delivery easy and keeps the body from damaging it.  RNA breaks down after the protein is made.  It is important to have both doses of the vaccination for mRNA as the 1st shot helps the body to recognize the virus and the 2nd shot strengthens the immune response.   There is data from tens of thousands of people and they show that these vaccines are >90% effective in preventing infections.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines are vaccines that uses a different harmless virus (modified adenovirus) as a vector (carrier).  It enters into cells of our body and then uses the cells machinery to produce a harmless piece (spike protein) of the virus that causes COVID-19.  The cell display the spike protein on its surface and our immune system recognizes it as foreign and triggers an immune response by producing antibodies and activate other immune cells to fight it off.  Other vaccines using viral vector include the Ebola vaccine.  See here for details.

Vaccine risks are rare whereas the complications of COVID-19 are much more common and can be fatal, even for young people with healthy immune systems.  A study of more than 3000 patients younger than 35 who developed severe COVID disease, found that out of those hospitalized, 21% require intensive care, 10% had to be placed on ventilators and nearly 3% died.

Breakthrough COVID-19  cases are very rare.  “Breakthrough,” refers to people who test positive 14 days after receiving all the recommended FDA EUA COVID vaccination.  per CDC “COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness in vaccinated people. There will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated people who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19. Details about COVID breakthrough case investigations can be found at CDC.

You can find out how you can get vaccinated in Virginia by looking here or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877)-829-4682.   If you are out of state, then you can find vaccination information online at your local Health Department.

COVID variants

As the SARS coV2 virus spread from person to person, it replicates itself multiple times and can make a mistake in its genetic replication.  The genetic variations can confer an advantage in the virus’s ability to transmit from person to person and to dodge our immune system.  By having a reservoir of people who are not immune (not vaccinated), we are giving the virus the ability to continue to have “mistakes” that could confer its ability to transmit.   Per CDC, “current information suggest that COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States offer protection against most variants. However, some variants might cause illness in some people after they are fully vaccinated if they are circulating in the community.”   Studies are ongoing.

Why should I get the vaccine?  Is it safe?  

Vaccines are one of the greatest success stories in public health.  Through the use of vaccines, we have eradicated smallpox and nearly eliminated wild polio virus.  The number of people who experience the devastating effects of preventable infectious disease like measles, diphtheria and whooping cough is at an all-time low.  As infectious diseases become less common, we hear less about serious consequences of preventable illnesses and more about risks associated with vaccines.  It is good to be informed about health choices, but the reality is that Americans have never been healthier than we are today and vaccines have never been safer than they are today.

Many of you might wonder if the COVID vaccine is safe since the vaccine development process – for COVID and any vaccine- involves many layers of study, testing and review.  See details here.  According to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, vaccines usually take an average of 10-15 years to create, and yet the COVID vaccines were developed in less than a year.  The vaccines for the novel coronavirus went through the same layers of review and testing as other vaccines.  Due to the dire nature of the pandemic, certain barriers to development, related to funding and manufacturing , were removed.  To understand how this is possible, it is important to know how the vaccine development process typically works and how the COVID vaccine was created.

Discovery phase – before any vaccine testing or development begins, scientists study the structure of the virus and how it causes disease in the body.  This allows them to identify potential ways of creating an effective vaccine.  This process usually takes several years.  In contrast, new technology allowed the genetic makeup of novel coronavirus to be shared with researchers worldwide just a few weeks after cases of COVID-19 is recognized.  The scientists then select the type of vaccine that looks the most promising.

Pre-clinical testing – In a lab setting, scientists study the vaccine looking at the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in animals before moving to testing in humans.

Clinical Trials – If enough research supports a vaccine candidate, it can then be tested using clinical trials involving people.  These clinical trials , which have 3 phases , are tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, all 3 phases were planned simultaneously to prevent delays if a vaccine candidate was proven effective.  Usually, each phase is planned after the previous one is completed since companies don’t want to put time and money behind a vaccine if it won’t be successful.  This may result in 1-2 years gap between clinical trial phases.

  • Phase 1 clinical trial – a study of usually less than 100 people, is designed to determine if the vaccine is safe, the best dosage and if there are any serious side effects.
  • Phase 2 clinical Trial – A larger study with a few hundred volunteers focus on how well the vaccine works.  These studies also continue to investigate its safety and side effects.
  • Phase 3 clinical trial – an even larger study, often including thousands of volunteers, allows scientists to compare people who receive the vaccine to those who did not.  They can better determine if the vaccine is safe and effective in a larger population of individuals.

FDA Review of Clinical Trials – The FDA looks for evidence that the vaccine is unsafe, ineffective or has side effects that outweigh the benefits of receiving the vaccine.  If there is substantial evidence that the vaccine is effective and it does no harm, then the FDA approves the vaccine for general public use.  If a vaccine is not proven safe, has significant side effects, or does not show efficacy, the vaccine is not distributed to the public.

Manufacturing – Traditionally, vaccine manufacturing begins when phase 3 of the clinical trials are being planned.  In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, manufacturing began in parallel with the clinical trials to ensure that FDA-approved vaccine candidates could  be distributed quickly.  Throughout the manufacturing process, batches of vaccine are tested to ensure that they’re packaged and distributed in a way that maintains their effectiveness.  The FDA routinely reviews the results of these tests.  All manufacturing facilities are routinely inspected and expected to meet the strict quality and safety standards.

Continue Safety Monitoring – After a vaccine is approved, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA continue to monitor the safety of the vaccine.

How COVID Vaccine Developed so fast?

Vaccine research funding – Vaccines can be expensive to create.  Each step of the testing process requires significant financial investment from companies.  Most drug companies do not make money from making vaccines, so that is not their priority.  The US government helped expedite the process by allocating billions to the development and manufacturing of the vaccine candidates for COVID-19.

Global communication and collaboration – More advanced ways of communicating and sharing information globally have also significantly sped up the vaccine creation process.  Nations across the globe have united to develop an effective COVID -19 vaccine as quickly and safely as possible.  The discovery phase of vaccine development is usually a very long process but the genetic makeup of novel coronavirus was shared with researchers world wide just a few weeks after the first case of COVID-19.  This allowed researchers and health organizations around the world to begin researching the best type of vaccine quickly.

New vaccine Development Technologies – There are many different ways to devel0p a vaccine, but in the last decade, scientist have made significant advancements in this area.  Today companies can simply read a virus’s genetic code and synthesize it in a lab, significantly shortening development times.  Manufacturing of the vaccine candidates were occurring simultaneously with the clinical trials for vaccine testing which also sped up the process of the availability of the vaccine.  This is previously unheard of as pharmaceutical companies would not put the money for a vaccine candidate that has not completed its clinical trials.

 

Symptoms to look out for with COVID-19

· Nasal congestion, and/or sore throat, and/or Headache
· Cough
· Fever and/ or chills
· Fatigue with or without activities and/or generalized weakness
· Sudden loss of smell and/or taste
· Shortness of breath
· Muscle aches and pains
· Loss of appetite, and/or nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain
· Discoloration of fingers and toes, hands and feet and/or any new generalized rashes
· Confusion, or loss of balance, or localized muscle weakness

 

Testing for COVID 19 available at the Student Health Center and locally in Fredericksburg

If you are sick, you may contact the Student Health Center from 8am-5pm for an appointment for an evaluation and testing.  After hours, you can either wait till the next morning to be seen at the SHC or go to a local urgent care center for testing.  Any emergency please call campus police at 540-654-4444.

 Testing Protocols at UMW

Please see UMW protocols for further information regarding Testing and Isolation for Summer 2021 here.

Practice self-care if you have COVID-19

  • Rest – it is important to get adequate rest and sleep. This will keep your immune system strong.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – Viral infections are dehydrating. Drink enough so that your urine is a normal pale color.  Water, soup, fruit juice, and hot tea with lemon are good choices.
  • Take OTC (Over-the-counter) medications for symptoms if needed.
    • Tylenol or Ibuprofen to reduce fever or relieve body aches.
    • Use petroleum jelly on sore skin that may occur around your nose and/or lips from increase use of tissues.
    • Sore throat can be relieved with fluid, or cough drops or Benzocaine containing lozenges i.e. Cepacol or Chloraceptic 

*Please read and follow all instructions on OTC labels.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or go to the ER if:

  • You have trouble breathing. (You can’t speak a full sentence.)
  • You have constant chest pain or pressure.
  • You are severely dizzy or lightheaded.
  • You are confused or can’t think clearly.
  • Your face and lips have a blue color.
  • You feel like passing out (lose consciousness) or you are having hard time staying awake.
  • You can’t keep liquids down.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You are not getting better as expected.

Call before you go to the doctor’s office.  Follow their instructions. And wear a mask.

HEALTHY HABITS DURING QUARANTINE