Dr. Emilio Carranco, Chief Medical Officer | April 20, 2021
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
We are in the final weeks of the spring semester and I want to update everyone on the COVID-19 pandemic and our efforts to prevent the spread of infection on our campuses. During the worst part of the COVID-19 surge in December, Texas was reporting about 27,000 cases per day, a positivity rate of 20.9% and 386 deaths in a day. Since then, the situation has improved dramatically in our state. Texas is now reporting about 1,000 cases per day, a positivity rate of 4.7% and nine deaths on 4/19/21. The number of persons hospitalized with COVID-19 has also dropped significantly. The situation at Texas State has similarly improved. Positivity rates have consistently been lower than those of surrounding areas and the state. As expected, we are currently seeing an uptick in cases and positivity rates associated with travel and social gathering during the Easter weekend. However, we have still not detected any COVID-19 transmission in classrooms, departments, or residence halls beyond roommates. We expect that case counts and positivity rates will decrease over the coming weeks. What we do over the next few months will determine whether we can finally bring this pandemic to an end.
Texas State Vaccinations
Vaccination for COVID-19 is the best way to bring this pandemic to an end. Anyone 16 and older is eligible for vaccination. Texas State has received allocations of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Almost 6,000 vaccinations have been administered on our campuses. The last opportunity to receive the Pfizer first and second doses before the end of the spring semester will be the joint Texas State-Hays County vaccination event this Thursday, April 22, 2021, at the University Events Center. This vaccination event is open to anyone who is eligible for vaccination. You do not have to be a current Texas State faculty, staff or student. So, it is a great opportunity to help get family and friends vaccinated. To register for vaccination, click VACCINATION REGISTRATION PORTAL.
Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness
Over 189 million doses of vaccine have been safely administered in the United States. Most persons experience mild to moderate side-effects that resolve without the need of any medical intervention. Serious adverse effects are rare. Anaphylaxis, which is a serious allergic reaction, occurs at the rate of 2-5 cases per million vaccinations and can be easily and effectively treated with epinephrine. The pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccinations understandably raises concerns about vaccine safety, but it also demonstrates the FDA’s continuing efforts to ensure safety. The results of that investigation should be available soon. To date, the CDC has not discovered any serious long-term effects from vaccination.
The currently authorized vaccines are highly effective in preventing illness with clinical studies showing 95% effectiveness for Pfizer, 94% for Moderna and 66% (74% in the US) for Johnson & Johnson. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be 80% effective after even just one shot. For comparison, flu vaccines tend to be 40-60% effective depending on how well they match the circulating flu strains.
Benefits of Vaccination
The benefits of vaccination are significant. We have all had to stop doing many things that we enjoyed or were important to us such as gathering with family and friends, traveling, dining inside restaurants, going to movie theaters and amusement parks, and attending religious services. Vaccination can help us to safely begin to expand what we can do. The benefits of vaccination include:
- Prevent serious illness and death
- Ability to visit with others who are fully vaccinated without masking or physically distancing
- If exposed to a positive case, you don’t have to test or quarantine—unless symptomatic
- Don’t have to miss class, practice or work if exposed to a positive case
- Don’t have to test before or after domestic travel
- Don’t have to quarantine after travel—domestic or international
- Don’t have to test before international travel unless required by the destination country
- Less likely to spread infection to others
COVID-19 Testing is Important
We continue to promote regular testing for COVID-19 as this is the best way to detect infections in persons who may not know they are infected. On a weekly basis, a random sample of our faculty, staff and students are requested to get a free COVID-19 test on our campuses. The testing data collected has assisted the university in assessing the prevalence of COVID-19 in our university community and has informed university decisions on response measures. For more information on free testing, click TXST COVID-19 TESTING. Please remember to report to Bobcat Trace as soon as possible if you have a positive test. Reporting will initiate contact tracing which is critical to breaking the chain of COVID-19 transmission.
Prevention Measures Still Important
As the COVID-19 situation continues to improve, and as vaccination becomes available to more people, it is still important to practice the prevention measures that have protected us throughout this pandemic. We still need to wear face coverings, physically distance, practice good hand hygiene and avoid crowds. However, I am more hopeful than ever that life as we knew it before the pandemic will return. Let’s keep practicing the prevention measures that we know work and let’s get vaccinated as soon as possible. This is how we end the pandemic and keep ourselves and those we care about safe.
Dr. Emilio Carranco
Chief Medical Officer
Director, Student Health Center