Most Harvard affiliates will be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine next month, following an announcement Wednesday by Massachusetts governor Charlie D. Baker ’79 that all residents over the age of 16 will become eligible April 19.
In the announcement, Baker unveiled an updated vaccine eligibility timeline for Massachusetts residents who had not been previously eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1 or Phase 2 Groups 1 and 2 of the state’s vaccination timeline.
According to the timeline, residents over the age of 60 and essential workers — including those in the sanitation, agricultural, utility, and transit sectors — will become eligible for the vaccine March 22. Individuals with one qualifying medical condition and residents over the age of 55 will follow on April 5.
Phase 3 — slated to begin April 19 — will extend vaccine eligibility to all residents over the age of 16.
Harvard University Health Services is planning for broader distribution of the vaccine in accordance with the state’s distribution plan, Director Giang T. Nguyen wrote in an email to students Wednesday. The clinic has administered over 1,100 doses to Harvard affiliates as of March 16 and is currently vaccinating patients 65 years and older and patients with at least two comorbidities.
Nguyen wrote that HUHS will update students on whether they can receive the vaccine through HUHS when the general public becomes eligible on April 19. Still, he urged affiliates to get the vaccine from all available sources as soon as they become eligible.
Harvard Law School student and first-year proctor Jake H. Hummer ’17, who said he pre-registered for his vaccination appointment after today’s announcement, said he anticipates the feeling of relief that will come from receiving the vaccine.
“For me, getting vaccinated will at least feel like for me, the pandemic is over,” Hummer said. “I’ll still be wearing a mask until we don’t have to anymore, but it’ll just feel good to not be as worried about catching coronavirus.”
He added that he looks forward to spending time with his aunt after his vaccination.
“Getting the vaccine, the big thing that it will do, is allow me to see my aunt in person, who [has] been vaccinated,” he said. “We spent St. Patrick’s Day together, but we were sitting outside, socially distanced, masks on between bites and everything. It’ll be nice to actually just really sit down with her and chat.”
As an international student, Matej Cerman ’23 said receiving the vaccine before he returns to his family in Slovakia would provide him with an extra sense of security.
“Across the E.U., the vaccine rollout has been slower than the U.S.,” Cerman said. “I think back at home, I would be eligible for a vaccine perhaps sometimes in late summer, maybe in the fall.”
“Flying, going through multiple airports, and then immediately staying at home where I do have family, it’s just going to feel a lot more secure if I get the vaccine before that,” he added.
Even after getting the vaccine, Jason W. Wang ’24 said he plans to adhere to safety guidelines.
“We don’t know about community spread, even with the vaccine,” Wang said. “I’ll definitely still be taking precautions, wearing a mask, trying to social distance as much as I can. Just being responsible, I guess — until we’ve reached an acceptable point of herd immunity, then maybe we could go back to the old normal.”
“Sometimes I go into CVS, and there’s a bunch of people and you’re like, ‘Whoa,’” Wang added. “When my parents come, when we get off campus to go home, I’ll feel safer knowing that my parents have gotten vaccinated, that I’m vaccinated, and everyone’s gonna be okay.”
While Harvard affiliates await their vaccinations, Nguyen wrote in the message that it is “critical” to continue adhering to public health guidelines.
“Whether or not you are fully vaccinated, it is critical that you remain vigilant,” he said. “The risk of transmission remains high, and that risk is heightened by the continued prevalence of new strains of the virus. The practices and protocols that have helped us limit the transmission of COVID-19 on campus are just as important in the weeks and months ahead.”
—Staff writer Claire H. Guo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @clairehguo.
—Staff writer Christine Mui can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MuiChristine.