Information about COVID-19 Vaccines

The following message was sent to the University of Portland community on January 29, 2021

Dear University of Portland Community,

University of Portland leadership remains committed to the transparent sharing of vital information as our community navigates the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of our current priority focus areas is the availability and distribution of vaccines.

In addressing the topic of vaccines, we begin by noting that UP does not control the priority order of vaccine recipients at any level. That responsibility rests with Oregon Governor Kate Brown in consultation with the Oregon Health Authority and other experts. Critical to any vaccination program is inventory of actual vaccines. And so far, quantities of vaccines arriving in Oregon have not been consistent.

While vaccine priority and inventory are managed elsewhere, let’s focus on what we know at this time. We currently have approximately 500+ members of our UP community included in the Priority 1A and 1B phases for vaccine eligibility, including Health & Counseling Center staff, and some School of Nursing faculty and students. We have established an internal team to develop and implement a vaccination strategy for our campus community, led by Dr. Casey Shillam, dean of the School of Nursing; Andrea Barton, vice president and general counsel; Dr. Matt Rygg, associate vice president for student development; Kaylin Soldat, associate director of primary care services; Sarah Schmits, environmental health & safety officer; and Meg Farra, interim Title IX co-coordinator for student support.

This team will use the Pilots Prevent website and Helping Pilots Prevent newsletter to inform students, faculty, staff and parents of updates in vaccine priority status; vaccination clinic locations; and guidance for receiving the vaccine once designated groups of our community become eligible for vaccination based on Governor Brown’s determination of priority status. They will also communicate any University policies and expectations related to vaccinations.

Questions have been raised regarding the potential for changes to University expectations and protocols after someone has received both doses of the vaccine. Here are some important points of information:

  • Regardless of your vaccination status, all members of the campus community must continue with testing as scheduled in the surveillance testing plan. Even if you receive the vaccine, you are still required to participate in surveillance testing if you have been designated as being the high or low-contact groups

  • Regardless of vaccination status, if you are exposed to COVID-19, you will still undergo quarantine procedures whether living on or off-campus.

  • We acknowledge that the guidance from the Oregon Health Authority may be different. Out of an abundance of caution, we want to see more data on the efficacy of the vaccine and its impact on COVID-19 transmission before lifting our quarantine protocols for those in our community who have been vaccinated. This stance may eventually change, but currently follows guidelines from the CDC.

  • You will not test positive because you’ve been vaccinated. The vaccine does not use any form of the actual coronavirus, and therefore does not impact COVID-19 testing results.

  • Even after receiving both doses of the vaccines, all members of the campus community must still maintain current health and safety practices—face masking, handwashing, and social distancing.

We are committed to ensuring our UP community has access to vaccines as soon as possible. The best way to move toward a post-pandemic life is to support our faculty, staff and students in attaining vaccinations in an efficient and effective manner. Our internal team is dedicated to meeting this goal.

Michael Lewellen, Vice President for Marketing & Communications