Note: This letter originally appeared as an email sent to Hopkins students on October 6, 2021.
As the weather begins to feel like fall, we are reminded that influenza season will be here soon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes it’s likely that both flu and COVID-19 viruses will be spreading this season. Because some of the symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar, a diagnosis about one versus the other cannot be made based on symptoms alone. Testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis. Furthermore, people can be infected with both the virus that causes flu and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time and have symptoms of both influenza and COVID-19.
We ask you to monitor yourself for any symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever), and if you are not feeling well, stay home from JHU campuses. We are also asking faculty to excuse students from in-person instruction and provide alternate means for students and trainees to participate in instructional activities when that is possible. We want our students to feel they are able to stay away from classes if they are sick, avoid spreading germs, and take care of their health without fearing academic repercussions.
Johns Hopkins students who have symptoms should call the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Call Center at 833-546-7546, seven days a week, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Johns Hopkins nurses and physicians and specially trained nursing and medical students are prepared to instruct callers about next steps, including arranging for COVID and influenza testing.
The mandatory flu vaccination policy applies to ALL Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine students regardless of current location, unless the student has an approved medical or religious exception. All other Johns Hopkins University students must receive the vaccine or an approved exception if they will be participating in on-campus activities. The deadline to submit your documentation is Friday, Nov. 19.
If you attend an Occupational and Student Health vaccine clinic, your JHED ID will be swiped and the documentation uploaded to Johns Hopkins. Information about on-site vaccination clinics, which are now accepting appointments and are scheduled through early November, is available on the Health, Safety and Environment website. Appointments are required and are made through the MyChart system.
The flu vaccine is also free with Johns Hopkins–provided health insurance at any outpatient pharmacy, health care provider office, or city/county health department clinic. Plus, vouchers are available in the Vaccine Management System (VMS) for free flu shots at Walgreens, which does not require an appointment. If you get vaccinated at any location outside a Johns Hopkins Occupational and Student Health vaccine clinic, you will need to upload your documentation in the VMS, including a clear scan or photo of a record that includes your name, the date of vaccination, and the vaccination location (e.g., Walgreens, CVS, or the name of the physician’s office).
Our university is successfully monitoring many different populations of students, faculty, and staff across nine academic divisions to ensure our policies—including masking requirements, vaccine mandates, distancing rules, and use of the Prodensity app, among others—are helping create a safer environment for our community to come together and learn. More details are on the JHU Coronavirus Information website.
We appreciate your help with all these measures and encourage you to take care of yourself as the colder weather approaches.
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Professor, Vice Provost and Chief Risk Officer
Vice Provost for Student Health & Well-Being
Interim Vice Provost for Student Affairs