March 18, 2021
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,
As COVID vaccine distribution has increased within our community, we have received questions about whether our existing safety measures such as testing, masking, and gathering requirements continue to apply to people who have been vaccinated. In short, they do. Given the still-evolving understanding of the science related to these vaccines and the operational difficulty of enforcing different rules for different people within our community, we are not relaxing any of our COVID safety protocols at this time based on individuals’ vaccination status.
We have robust evidence that all three COVID vaccines that have been approved in the United States (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) provide strong protection against severe symptoms of COVID, and consequently hospitalization and death from the virus. However, we do not yet have enough information to say with certainty whether they prevent mild symptoms, transmission of the virus, or infection. We may soon be able to draw conclusions about the vaccine’s effectiveness in those regards and potentially consider changes to our operating procedures as a result, but we are not yet at that point. Consequently, vaccinated individuals at JHU are still subject to the same rules, including those for testing, masking, physical distancing, and limitations on gathering.
Recent CDC guidance indicates that it is safe for vaccinated individuals to socialize with each other, even unmasked. However, those guidelines are not meant to cover public places and do not apply within JHU facilities or to Johns Hopkins undergraduates on or off campus.
We are closely watching the emerging science around the vaccine and the state of the pandemic itself, and to the extent we can safely relax our restrictions, we will. But for now, please continue to be diligent about testing, mask wearing, physical distancing, hand washing, and other safety measures as part of the JHU Social Compact, even if you have been vaccinated.
Stay safe and be well,
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Professor, Vice Provost, and Chief Risk and Compliance Officer
Professor and Senior Adviser to the President for Strategic Initiatives