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Update to Message of March 30

To the Campus Community,

I write to follow up my message of March 30, 2021, specifically to provide a correction, a clarification, and strong encouragement.

Correction. In the March 30 message, I erred in saying that COVID-19 vaccines are “authorized for emergency use only.” What I should have said is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees vaccine, quality, safety, and effectiveness, has issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines (specifically those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.) As elaborated here, an EUA facilitates the availability and use of vaccines during public health emergencies.

Clarification. Also in my March 30 message, I indicated that TCNJ is not mandating COVID-19 vaccines issued with an EUA. Much is likely to change between now and the start of the fall term, however. The FDA could give full approval or license to COVID-19 vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech plans to submit its application for full license in April 2021, although FDA has no set timetable for acting on the application. Or, legal analysis could determine that employers may mandate vaccines issued with an EUA. Let me clarify that we continue to study the issue and have not made a final decision on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for students or employees. Recommendations from our Health and Safety Readiness Task Force and our final determination will reflect circumstances and official guidance from the CDC and other authorities.

Strong Encouragement. Effective today, April 5, 2021, the State of New Jersey has expanded its eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine. As elaborated on the NJ COVID-19 Information Hubindividuals aged 55-64 and workers in higher education, including support staff are now eligible to make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. The link outlines how to make an appointment and where to get the vaccine. These newly eligible groups are in addition to persons age 65 and above, persons 16-64 with certain medical conditions, front-line workers, and other groups deemed by the state to be eligible for the vaccine. We have our fingers crossed that college students will soon be eligible as well.

We join federal and state authorities in strongly encouraging you to get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible (except in the rare instances in which the vaccine is medically contraindicated). Our ability to return to campus in the fall, partake of a range of activities, and protect the health of TCNJ community members and our off-campus neighbors depends upon high levels of vaccination.

I end with continued thanks for your health efforts on and off campus. Since March 25, TCNJ has registered no more than three positive virus tests per day out of hundreds of daily tests, which translates to test positivity rates well below 1 percent. We cannot achieve our goals for spring, summer and fall 2021 without the compliance and good will of everyone living on and coming to campus. Thank you for staying the course and for your continued adherence to our values and community.

With immense appreciation and continued determination,

Kathryn A. Foster

President