Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
As you are aware, the first COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and have begun to be distributed in New Jersey. The state’s goal is to make the vaccine available for free to all adults who live or work in New Jersey or who attend a college or university in New Jersey, but the timeframe that will be necessary to achieve that goal is not yet clear. Unfortunately, the pace of vaccination appears to be moving far more slowly than we would have hoped, and the demand for vaccination greatly exceeds the available supply.
We are keeping a very close eye on vaccine distribution, and we will provide more information to the University community as it becomes available. The University is confident that there is more than sufficient scientific evidence that the two vaccines that have been approved for use in the U.S. are both safe and effective and that inoculating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, is the best strategy for defeating the virus and ending this devastating pandemic. For that reason, the University will do whatever we can to make vaccination possible for the University community, but the current shortage of vaccines is posing a significant obstacle.
While we await resolution of that problem, there are two things you can do. First, if you have not already done so, please register on the NJ Department of Health vaccination website. The system will assign you to a priority group and notify you when it is time for you to make an appointment to be vaccinated.
Second, please keep rigorously practicing all the precautions that science has shown to be effective in slowing the spread of the disease and that have been working well for the University community: wear your mask, keep a safe distance from others, stay home if you are sick, keep your hands clean, limit your travel, and remember to do Hawk Check. These are the tools that are available to us, and our University community has been quite diligent in following these precautions, which is a large part of why we have been able to continue many on-campus activities and have not seen the outbreaks that have happened on other campuses.
A number of people have asked if students and employees will be required to get vaccinated, once the vaccines are available. Federal and state law, as it currently stands, does not permit the University to require that students or employees get vaccinated, but I strongly urge you to do so as soon as you are eligible and have the chance. If and when the law changes, the University’s policy and requirements may also change.
Many of you have found convenient resources for testing, but if you need access to COVID-19 testing, one option for the Montclair State community is to use the Passaic County testing site on our campus. The site is open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in January in Lot 60. If you do use this testing site, please use 147 Clove Road, Little Falls, NJ 07424 as your address, so that our University Health Center will receive your results. As we head into the start of the spring term in February, there will be more information about the University’s testing program.