Update on testing platform, boosters, flu vaccines, and more

Dear Allegheny College campus community,

I am writing with a few updates on the pandemic response on our campus.

  • Testing platform change: A few weeks ago, I emailed you that Abbott was unable to deliver rapid COVID-19 tests and we were switching to Inspire rapid antigen tests for future rapid tests. Abbott then surprised us by sending 18,000 tests. Therefore, on October 11, we will be switching back to the Abbott antigen test for the remainder of the semester. I apologize for the frustration…this continues to be a global situation in flux. Cindy, our nurse, is exemplifying patience on this matter; feel free to give her a thumbs up next time you test.
  • Boostersfor those who qualify, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster will be available to our campus community on October 16 from 6 am to 3 pm. Allegheny will offer a free round-trip shuttle service from campus. Pick-up will be at the Lord Gate on Brooks Walk, North Main Street and drop-off at 984 Water Street. Employees and students: check your Allegheny email for links to the booster sign-up and shuttle sign-up forms.
  • Flu vaccines: As we continue to work to protect our campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to announce that we are purchasing 1,000 doses of the influenza vaccine from Meadville Medical Center. We are so grateful to MMC for our ongoing partnership. We will offer these influenza vaccine doses to our students at no charge at the Wise testing center. Dates and details will be provided in the next few weeks. The influenza vaccine is not mandatory but is strongly recommended because it will protect you from influenza (whose symptoms mimic COVID-19).
  • Meadville Children’s Center: President Biden recently recommended that all unvaccinated employees test weekly. In order to keep our campus community safe, and as a service to the Allegheny parents who depend on MCC for childcare, we will be providing weekly COVID-19 testing to the unvaccinated childcare workers at the Wise Center.
  • Unmasked dining and cleaning employees: On August 6, I advised that the dining staff and cleaning staff are contract employees with high turnover, which made their vaccination rate and testing compliance hard to track. Therefore, we had asked these employees to continue to wear masks at all times while on campus, regardless of vaccination status. In the months since, we have noted excellent compliance with record keeping, mask wearing and testing compliance. Therefore, and with a promise from their management to continue strong compliance, dining and cleaning staff who are fully vaccinated may now elect to work without a mask.
  • COVID-19 rates on campus: Three employees tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Two are vaccinated, and one is unvaccinated. All are recovering at home. Twelve employee contacts and one student contact were identified. Nine are vaccinated, and three are unvaccinated. None are showing symptoms at this time.

Gator strong.

Dr. Morrow