Dear Whitman community,

For many months, we have been looking forward to the widespread vaccination of our campus community, the Walla Walla Valley and beyond as a primary method of bringing the coronavirus pandemic to an end. Right now we are fortunate that COVID vaccines are widely available for all adults in the Walla Walla Valley; however, ongoing vaccine availability is not guaranteed to remain the norm throughout the summer, and other cities and states are already experiencing the difficulties caused by limited vaccine allocations. Because we are seriously considering requiring the COVID vaccine for the Fall 2021 semester, we strongly encourage all members of our campus community to be vaccinated as soon as possible. We especially encourage students to get vaccinated prior to returning home or traveling at the end of the semester. Our goal is for 100% of our faculty, staff and students to be vaccinated with limited exceptions.

Whitman’s Coronavirus Task Force is carefully considering how to adapt our campus health protocols as more of our faculty, staff and students become fully vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated, the higher the likelihood that we will be able to lift COVID-related restrictions and return to a more normal campus life in the fall. We need to begin planning now for our Fall 2021 campus COVID-19 health protocols, and knowing how much of our campus community is vaccinated is a critical piece of data in that process. 

Please help us plan for the fall by completing the online COVID-19 Vaccination Reporting Form as soon as possible after you receive all necessary vaccine doses (two doses for Astra-Zeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Sputnik V, one dose for Johnson & Johnson). In order to complete the form, you will need to be logged in with your Whitman credentials and must provide the following information:

  • Type of vaccine received

  • Date(s) of your doses 

  • Image (scan or photo) of your COVID-19 vaccination card

This individual data will be collected and stored in a HIPAA-compliant format; it will be kept private and secure, and will only be available to a select group of people authorized to access health information related to the work of the Coronavirus Task Force. The cumulative percentage of people vaccinated will be shared with the larger Whitman community regularly through Whitman Today and on our COVID-19 Dashboard.

If you are not yet vaccinated or must still receive a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, please complete this form only when your vaccination process is complete. (See the FAQs below for details on vaccine opportunities in Walla Walla, including several county clinics this week as well as local pharmacy appointments.) We will post the link to the COVID-19 Vaccination Reporting Form on our COVID-19 Dashboard and share it in future issues of Whitman Today for easy reference. 

There is much we are still learning about the COVID-19 vaccines: how long the protection lasts, how vaccination impacts transmission, how effective the vaccine is against the virus variants. As this data becomes available and clear guidelines are established by the CDC and the Washington State Department of Health, we will continue to adapt our plans and policies in response. We hope that having our campus population fully vaccinated will make it possible for the Fall 2021 semester to look much more like “normal” life at Whitman. However, for the remainder of the spring semester, our campus-wide policies remain unchanged regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. Everyone approved to be on campus must continue to participate in assigned surveillance tests, wear face coverings in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, maintain at least 6 ft. of distance between themselves and others and follow limits for social gatherings.

Best,
Peter Harvey
Coronavirus Task Force Chair

VACCINE FAQs:

Where can I get the vaccine?

Thankfully, doses are currently widely available in Walla Walla County and if you act quickly, there is time to receive all the necessary vaccine doses before the semester ends. 

You can find information and make appointments on Walla Walla County vaccine clinics online (there are clinics this week on April 14, 15 and 17 for everyone age 16 and older), use the state vaccine locator tool to find options and may also check directly with local pharmacies to find out if they have vaccine doses available.

  1. Rite-Aid (509-529-1917; https://www.riteaid.com/pharmacy/covid-qualifier)

  2. Safeway (509-522-0227; https://www.safeway.com/vaccinations/home)

  3. Albertsons (509- 529-2008; https://www.albertsons.com/vaccinations/home)

  4. Walmart (509-525-3626; https://www.walmart.com/cp/1228302)

Will Whitman be a vaccine distribution center for our students?

Whitman has been approved by the state to be a vaccine distribution center, but we have not yet been notified if we will receive any vaccine doses. Therefore, students should take advantage of local county and pharmacy vaccination programs unless a Whitman clinic is announced.

Will Whitman be a vaccine distribution center for our employees?

No. We encourage our employees to be vaccinated through local pharmacies, medical offices or the Walla Walla County vaccine clinics.

Will the vaccine be required for study/employment?

We are strongly considering requiring the vaccine in Fall 2021 and will share more about that in future communications.

Who will have access to my individual vaccination info?

A small group of authorized Whitman employees who are part of the data collection and management process and members of the Coronavirus Task Force involved in policy development.

What does “fully vaccinated” mean?

According to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or

  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

If it has been less than two weeks since your one-dose shot, or if you still need to get your second dose of a two-dose vaccine, you are not fully protected. 

Can I stop taking surveillance tests if I’m fully vaccinated?

For the remainder of the spring semester all campus community members must remain in the surveillance testing protocol even if fully vaccinated. We are considering the role that surveillance testing will play in our summer and fall health plans.

What if I don’t plan to get the vaccine?

We strongly encourage you to reconsider unless there is a medical reason you should not receive the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine plays an important role in helping prevent serious illness that severely impacts individuals and our communities.