January 6, 2021

To the MIT community,

Before the break, on December 17, I wrote to our community about the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine. At the time, I said that MIT didn’t expect its first shipment until mid-January or later and that we would begin immunizations as soon as vials of the vaccine arrived on campus. Today, I am happy to report that the vaccine arrived much sooner than we had expected.

Just before we went on break, a shipment of 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived. The team at MIT Medical immediately sprang into action, and during the holiday break, we began our vaccination efforts. This meant immunizing our physicians, nurses, and other clinicians; front-desk staff; medical housekeepers; and others who have patient-facing roles, such as our campus testing and tracing team. I’m proud and fortunate to say that before the end of 2020, we had provided a first dose of vaccine to every at-risk staff member of MIT Medical who requested a vaccine.

First in line was our lead medical housekeeper, Fatima Rosario. She and her team have cleaned and disinfected all of MIT Medical, including the Covid-19 testing facilities, since day one of the pandemic. They are true healthcare heroes, and we are so thankful for their service to the MIT community.

What this means for you

As I wrote in December, the vaccine will be distributed according to prioritization established by state and federal public health authorities. We don’t know when shipments of vaccine will arrive or how many doses each will contain. But, as proven last week, we do know that we can safely and efficiently vaccinate hundreds of people. Our MIT Medical team stands ready to immunize as many individuals as the state authorizes us to vaccinate.

We also ask that you do not call MIT Medical to request the vaccine, as our call volumes are already very high. We will continue to keep the community informed as we learn more. Please visit our vaccine FAQ for more information. While we hope things will change, for the time being, MIT Medical will only be able to vaccinate individuals who get their healthcare at MIT. This includes all students. Community members who are not patients of MIT Medical should plan to receive a vaccine from their own personal clinician, or at a community vaccination clinic if those become available.

At this time, it is important for you to remain vigilant and cautious. We are entering one of the most dangerous times of the pandemic. With a vaccine now available, many people will mistakenly let their guards down, and transmission rates are likely to rise. We want to prevent this from happening at MIT. To be clear, while clinical trials showed the vaccine to be more than 94 percent effective in preventing symptomatic illness after two doses, we do not yet know the full extent of immunity conferred by Covid-19 vaccine. We only know that the Covid-19 vaccine makes it less likely that you will develop symptoms of the disease if you are exposed. We do not know if it prevents asymptomatic infection, and, most importantly, we do not know if it will prevent you from transmitting Covid-19 to others. Therefore, for now, and for the foreseeable future, not much is changing. Regardless of whether you receive a vaccine, you must continue testing, wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, washing your hands, and being smart about staying healthy.

I should also add that with the holiday season behind us, we may see an uptick in positive Covid-19 cases. Our testing and contact tracing teams have prepared for such a scenario, and we are continuing to take all appropriate steps to ensure the continued health and safety of the campus community.

Finally, I would like to send a heartfelt thank you to all the members of the MIT Medical staff who worked during their holiday week to keep their peers and the community safe. We all owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

Looking forward to a hopeful new year,

Cecilia Stuopis, MD
Medical Director, MIT Medical