Colleges in the 2021-2022 Academic Year & Coronavirus (Part 2)

There is lots of availability because no one is getting vaccinated. The Governor said he would like to see us at around 60% before he removes the indoor mandate- not sure we will get there. He probably will have to give in on June 1st.

Where I live there is huge demand now for 12-15 that people can’t find appointments. Good news. Our high school district set up a vaccine clinic for the middle school districts (we are not a K-12 district) students to get vaccinated at the high school. So great they’re doing what it takes to get this done.

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MN Governor will repeal the mask mandate as early as tomorrow. Businesses and local governments are free to enforce their own rules. Public schools will continue to require masks through the spring.

He had only recently said that repeal would happen by 7/1 at latest but earlier if 70% of 16+ receive the vaccine. MN is currently at 60% of that age group for at least one shot and 49% for the full series. So this was a welcome surprise. However, I predict that several Twin Cities localities will still impose the mandate for a bit longer. We’ll see.

When did all parts of Minnesota reach easy availability of vaccine for adults? Add 6-8 weeks (based on the slowest (Moderna) vaccine timeline, plus a 2 week buffer for scheduling convenience) to that date to get the date to get the date when the only not-fully-vaccinated adults are those who are voluntarily unvaccinated or who are medically unable.

For age 12-15, add 5-7 weeks (Pfizer - BioNTech timeline) to the date of FDA EUA for them to get the date when all in that age group who want vaccine should be able to get fully vaccinated. I.e. late June to early July time frame.

For schools’ fall term, middle (7th grade and higher) and high schools should be at the point where any unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff are either voluntarily unvaccinated or are medically unable. For the latter group, will schools require vaccination to try to get to herd immunity within the school to protect them (the reason other vaccination requirements exist)?

I’m sure that the state did the same calculations. Full availability for 16+ was March 30 and I know people who were able to walk in that day and get vaccinated, whereas a week prior they couldn’t (though they tried). Those people became fully vaccinated as of Wed. or so this week. However, daily vaccination numbers have almost halved since the beginning of April and this is a source of concern to the Health Commissioner, who had her own words about the removal of the mask mandate. She did not come out against the Governor but she made it clear that it’s very possible for infection rates to increase again due to the current numbers of unvaccinated. So there was a bit of mixed messaging yesterday which was interesting to read. Of course it’s moot if most localities in the Twin Cities re-impose the mandate for the unvaccinated (as I suspect some of them might try to do). The guv rejected doing that state-wide as just too difficult to enforce.

There has been no announcement yet for schools in the fall. What I’ve noticed here is that Pfizer isn’t readily available unless you know where to go (for instance, my health care provider). So I’d add a week for the Moderna which is what our local CVS and so forth use. That age group isn’t able to get the J&J currently, has been my understanding.

For age 12-15, only Pfizer - BioNTech is available, not Moderna or J&J - Janssen. So if Pfizer - BioNTech is not easy to get, it may take longer for that age group to get fully vaccinated, although it seems unlikely that availability-based delays would prevent them from being fully vaccinated by middle or high school fall term.

The remaining questions for schools:

  1. For schools where students can be reasonably be expected to have completed full vaccination by the time the fall term starts (i.e. 7th grade through graduate / professional school), will the schools require vaccination to protect the few who are medically unable to get vaccinated? As we have seen for colleges, the answers vary.
  2. If vaccines are not available for the under-12 age group, will K-6 schools be concerned about infection in their students? COVID-19 is known to be lower risk in children than adults, although in context of overall child sicknesses, it is still significant. If they are concerned, will they continue to apply COVID-19 protocols (distanced classrooms, shields, masks, limitations on unsupervised lunch and recess periods, etc.) for in-person school?

Here for K-12 one can oppose vaccinations for pretty much any reason simply by providing a notarized signature. The statement on the immunization form is simply “I am opposed to vaccinations” if I’m remembering correctly but there’s probably another form you have to fill out as well.

By “fully vaccinated”, I meant for those who want it to reach two weeks after the final dose.

Obviously, if avoiding vaccination in the context of (possible) school requirements is that easy, schools in your area will not have herd immunity, which can make life rather difficult for those medically unable to get vaccinated, or schools who want to accommodate such students (or faculty or staff). Of course, those refusing vaccination for non-medical reasons also assume their own risk and responsibility for such a choice.

Perhaps - but I’m aware of worse diseases than Covid-19 for which people decline vaccination here w/o causing an outbreak. Hopefully our political and health leaders understand what is appropriate for the public health of the state (edit to add: there are many schooling options here, including a robust home-schooling movement. So what works here might not work in other states). Those who are not able to get vaccinated should probably continue to protect themselves regardless. W/o a state mandate there will always be those who are not vaccinated, and compelling a vaccine mainly in order to protect others (particularly a few others) would be an unprecedented use of a medical procedure, as I have mentioned before upthread. I think it’s obvious that those who refuse vaccination take on their own risk - that’s kind of true for anyone declining a medical service.

Checking in with people who work in my local school district, they are expecting masks throughout the summer for indoors (there is a robust series of programs and day-care opportunities throughout the summer months) but no decisions yet about masks or vaccines for fall. I do not know at this point whether such decisions will be left up to the district or to the state. Right now, for instance, mask requirements for all schools at least through the end of the academic year is a state mandate; local districts don’t have that autonomy. How that will change is a wait-and-see.

In what sense are the other diseases worse? COVID-19 has a much larger number of baseline infections AND is more easily transmissible via aerosol than most other infectious diseases.

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Well, polio comes to mind. Transmitted via droplets among other means with a similar transmission profile. Before the measles vaccine, 3-4 million cases occurred each year per Wiki - probably comparable to something like 7 million today. Not as contagious as Covid; however, the serious complications would hit the young. Rubella of course, caused serious complications in adults and during the early stage of pregnancy (high risk of CRS in the fetus). Complications from chickenpox are no fun either for a child (nor is the illness). So yes, there are a few that are worse. Many adults are now thinking “Covid is worse for me personally, so YOU need to be vaccinated.” Not sure that’s the best way to think about the virus. Best if those at most risk get vaccinated and that’s exactly what’s been happening.

But the total number of COVID cases are orders of magnitude higher. With such a high baseline number of infections, COVID can spread much faster and broader in the population.

The Economist estimated that there’s about $10m excess deaths in the past year due to COVID.
https://www.economist.com/leaders/2021/05/15/ten-million-reasons-to-vaccinate-the-world

Sure. But the adverse impact risk is very low for the large majority, particularly the very healthy and young. Especially compared to diseases such as polio which would strike down the very healthy.

U of MN just announced that effective immediately, those fully vaccinated (ie two weeks past their completed series) no longer need to wear masks on campus. Not sure what sort of measures will be put in place, if any, to ensure compliance.

One can look up the excess death numbers (from all causes) on the CDC website. It’s large. But Covid is a disparate disease that strikes down the already-sick and the old. That of course isn’t a good thing at all - but it’s little reason to require most 12 year olds to be vaccinated.

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I’ve heard that the vaccine is going to be approved for kids under 12 before the fall now. No idea if that’s true but for 12-15 it was moved up awfully fast from the initial date of August by 3 months so it is entirely possible.

I wouldn’t expect schools to necessarily dump the mask wearing so quickly especially because they’ve now seen how the seasonal flu was basically non-existent. I’m flying to NY tomorrow so I expect to see a lot of non mask wearing at the airport but a lot of mask wearing in NY but I guess we’ll see.

I wear my mask 8 hours a day and it’s pretty easy. I see 2 year olds wearing them without issue all the time. I just wonder how many unvaccinated people will use this as an excuse to not wear masks still not get vaccinated and the variants are still a big concern.

In MN many of the unvaccinated will now go without masks. Because the mask mandate has been dropped. Of course, this is barring locality-specific rules (which are allowed) or requirements of individual businesses.

My casual perusal of the media reports on the UK and India variants is that they - in limited circumstances - have found a way around the vaccine. Does that mean one should avoid vaccination? No. But it does suggest that vaccination isn’t always going to be the panacea some have come to expect it to be. Covid will probably be with us for a long time.

None of the vaccines is 100% effective, even against the original strain, and their efficacies are likely to be significantly lower against the new variants. Without the masks, some vaccinated people will more likely be infected. For unvaccinated people, even if they still wear masks, their protection against the virus will be less effective if they’re with others who may carry the virus but aren’t wearing masks.

Probably because the baseline level of vaccination for other things like MMR, polio, etc. is high enough to be well above needed for herd immunity, so a few refusers are unlikely to break herd immunity. With COVID-19, refusal is much more common and herd immunity is unlikely, so the political disagreement about harms or risks that one person’s choices impose on some other person will be much more visible with COVID-19 than for those other diseases.

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