August 24, 2021
Dear SMU community,
It is heartening to learn that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA endorsement should bolster confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, which will hopefully lead to an increase in vaccinations. Getting the vaccine remains the best way to protect your health and that of your fellow Mustangs.
SMU will continue to strongly encourage everyone to get the vaccine, but will not require it at this time. Besides considering federal approval, SMU generally follows state health laws for requiring vaccinations for entering students. We will closely monitor local, state and federal health recommendations and guidance following this important federal approval and work to make sure our new students and others in our community know how quick and easy it is to get the vaccine right here on campus.
The Dr. Bob Smith Health Center currently has about 1,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine available for students, faculty, staff, employees’ spouses and dependents (age 12 and older) and campus strategic partners. Limited supplies of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson and Moderna (second and third doses only) vaccines are also available. The health center currently offers third doses for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals who are fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and will provide booster shots to others when they are approved and available.
We have also transitioned to a new way of voluntarily reporting your COVID-19 vaccination through the SMU Health Portal which is maintained by the health center. The portal gives students and employees convenient access to this important health record and should provide a better estimate of our campus vaccination rate. If you received the vaccine at the health center, it was automatically recorded. If you got it at an off-campus location, please take a few minutes to upload your vaccine card, even if you used the previous reporting tool.
Some of you have asked how long SMU will maintain the temporary mask requirement. Based upon the upward trend in COVID-19 cases that occurred as students arrived on campus last fall and spring, we will continue to require masks indoors for at least the first few weeks of this semester. After that, we will review the situation on a weekly basis using our assessment tool to measure the impact of the pandemic on our campus while taking into consideration the most up-to-date health guidance from local, state and federal authorities. Factors such as the number of cases at SMU and in the county; infection and vaccination rates; local hospitalizations; and campus isolation capacity will help determine when the mask requirement should be lifted.
It is such a pleasure to see the campus filled with excitement and activity as we begin this new academic year. Let’s continue to do our part to stay Mustang Strong.
R. Gerald Turner