Message from Brian L. Harper M.D., M.P.H.
Dear New York Tech Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As of April 13, 2021, more than 31 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tragically, there have also been 560,000 cumulative total deaths in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout continues, with 37.9% of the U.S. population having received at least one dose and 23.6% who are fully vaccinated. In New York State, more than half of New Yorkers 18 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than one-third of adults are fully vaccinated. Additionally, in New York State, COVID hospitalizations have dropped to the lowest level since December 1, 2020.

Despite the increasing number of vaccinations being administered, the rollout has been hampered by a hold placed on the administration of the one-dose Jansen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine due to concerns of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia. The Jansen vaccine may contribute to blood clotting, causing a rare condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. Symptoms may include severe headache, backache, new neurologic symptoms, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, petechiae, or new or easy bruising. The CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will review reports of this rare type of blood clot and thrombocytopenia among the six vaccine recipients experiencing them and assess their potential significance. Given the number of vaccines administered, the number of these adverse events is relatively small, but it is prudent for the CDC and FDA to reassess to assure safety. Although this could be viewed as a setback that may decrease vaccine confidence, it is, in fact, the way the system is designed—to assess adverse reaction trends early and thereby prevent major disasters. Therefore, I agree with this prudent and conservative approach, which should help to instill confidence that oversight is taking place.

To address the lack of the one-dose Jansen vaccine, the New York State governor's office is attempting to make doses of the Pfizer vaccine available for college campuses during the week of April 26. The NYITCOM Academic Health Centers are assessing our eligibility to obtain these vaccines and will work with the state health department as we have done in the past to try to obtain additional vaccines.

In regard to coronavirus variants, the B1.1.7 (U.K.) variant continues to be the predominant variant nationwide. It represents as much as 60 percent of the coronavirus variants in some states, including Tennessee, and as low as 14.1 percent in states like Arizona.

Overall, the nation continues to move in the right direction regarding immunity. With nearly 25 percent of the population fully vaccinated and many others experiencing natural immunity from contracting the disease, the overall population is becoming increasingly immune. This may be contributing to decreasing hospitalizations and mortality rates in many areas. However, we must continue to stay the course with community mitigation activities (including wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and remaining at home if ill or symptomatic) to bring the transmission down to negligible levels.

As always, the New York Tech community is welcome to make an appointment for a COVID test at the Academic Health Care Center in Long Island by calling 516.686.1300. Those who continue to feel anxious or uneasy may reach out to Counseling and Wellness Services at our campuses in Long Island (516.686.7683) or New York City (212.261.1773) to talk or make a virtual appointment.


Brian L. Harper, M.D., M.P.H.
Chief Medical Officer, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine
Vice President, Equity and Inclusion

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