The University is reexamining COVID-19 community standards in response to new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for vaccinated individuals.
The federal recommendations, published on March 9, allow fully vaccinated individuals to meet indoors without masks or physical distancing. These guidelines apply only to small groups.
The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” people as those who have waited two weeks after receiving their only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
In an emailed statement to The Daily Tar Heel, Provost Robert Blouin announced that the University will review these guidelines and reconsider existing standards for students and staff.
“We appreciate all of our students remaining vigilant and doing the right thing," Blouin said.
Blouin stressed the need for everyone to get vaccinated once they are eligible.
“Each are safe and effective and are one of the best ways the campus community can protect themselves and those around them from the virus, in addition to following the COVID-19 Community Standards," he said.
Audrey Pettifor, a professor of epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, does not believe the new guidelines will change on-campus operations.
“In a household, small groups of people can get together indoors if everyone in that group is fully vaccinated,” she said. “So that doesn’t apply to workplace settings or to classroom settings at this stage.”
Pettifor also said the CDC guidelines are still not applicable to most of the general student body.
“The other challenge right now is that most students are not vaccinated,” she said. “And I think faculty and staff — the people who have to be on campus — are just starting to get vaccinated.”
Regardless, Pettifor said it’s important to note that the new CDC guidelines apply once an individual is fully vaccinated.
“So if you’re getting Moderna or Pfizer, that’s two weeks post your second dose,” she said. “And for people just getting vaccinated now, that’s six weeks. And if you’re getting Johnson & Johnson, that’s 14 days post your dose. So it still would be a while.”
David Green, a junior studying music and Russian language and culture, doubts the new guidelines will significantly alter student behavior.
“I really don’t think this will change anything, because the people who are going to meet anyway already are meeting right now,” Green said. “I’d say the majority of people are cautious — almost everyone wears a mask.”
Green said he is still waiting his turn for the vaccine. When he gets it, he plans to play things safe, he said.
“I’m probably very last on the list of people who will get the vaccine, but it will definitely make me feel more comfortable,” Green said. “Though I probably would still wear a mask, unless I am with someone in my household or immediate social group. I’m still pretty cautious.”
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