COVID-19 Testing: Postdocs
SYMPTOMATIC TESTING AND/OR TESTING OUTSIDE OF THE VUMC SYSTEM
VU-employed postdocs who have symptoms related to COVID-19, have received a positive COVID-19 test result outside the VUMC system, or have been officially notified that they are a close contact to a COVID-19 positive person must call the Occupational Health Center (OHC) at 615-936-0955 to receive guidance for their symptoms, possible testing, isolation/quarantine period and return to campus criteria. Postdocs with symptoms can also call the VUMC COVID-19 hotline at (888) 312-0847 daily, 8 a.m. to5 p.m. to be assessed and directed to the nearest open testing site. VU employees can also report to the ePod testing location at Med Center East with their badge to be tested even without checking with OHC first or waiting to hear back from OHC.
If OHC is not open and the symptoms are severe enough, the individual should go to the VUMC emergency department.
An individual awaiting test results must remain at home off campus in quarantine and keep their department chair/supervisor/mentor/lead researcher informed of their return-to-campus status.
If an individual believes they have contracted COVID-19 after exposure to a known COVID-19 positive person on campus and/or while performing job duties, OHC may direct the individual to complete a First Report of Work Injury or Illness.
Members of the Vanderbilt community, including VU-employed postdocs who are authorized to be on campus and are engaged in on-campus, in-person activities, may be included in the institution’s COVID-19 periodic on-campus testing program. This includes postdocs who are coming to campus with regularity, which is defined as three days a week or more, and who interact regularly with students, faculty and/or staff as part of their on-campus activities. Staff and postdocs in the testing program will be tested on a monthly basis, with 25 percent of the identified postdoc population tested each week. Testing will occur at the Testing Center in the David R. Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center. Asymptomatic testing will not begin until the week of January 31. The Testing Center will be open Sunday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Postdocs who will be a part of the asymptomatic testing program will be notified by their school or department’s testing coordinator.
Postdocs who have been previously COVID-19 positive: per CDC guidelines you should not partake in COVID-19 testing for 90 days after the date of your test. Please complete the testing exemption form and upload relevant documentation, which will go to the medical professionals in the Public Health Command Center for review. Acceptable documentation to upload would be confirmation of a COVID-19 test in the last 90 days that includes your name, test date and the medical facility that provided the test. Antibody tests are not accepted. Those who tested positive through arrival and on-campus asymptomatic testing or symptomatic testing at Student Health do not need to complete the form, as they are already in the university’s system.
Postdocs who have been vaccinated will no longer need to participate in the testing program beginning two weeks after their vaccination is complete (either two weeks after the second dose for two-dose vaccines (currently Pfizer and Moderna) or two weeks after the single dose for single dose versions (currently Johnson and Johnson). The vaccinated person will be exempt from testing beginning from the two week mark, ONLY, if the person submits their vaccination records to the Public Health Command Center. To submit the vaccination record, please visit the following link. Please also keep in mind that individuals who are vaccinated must still follow all campus protocols, including mask wearing and physical distancing.
If you need to seek a medical exemption for testing, contact Equal Employment Opportunity and Access.
As part of the asymptomatic program, post docs will be notified of their test results. Post docs who test negative can continue with on-campus activities and should continue on as a part of the program as directed by their testing coordinator. Post docs who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate as directed until they are deemed to have recovered and are released to return to on-campus activities. Post docs may also receive an inconclusive test result. Inconclusive test results occur in about 1% of COVID-19 tests taken in an asymptomatic periodic testing program. An inconclusive test typically means that a very small amount of viral DNA is present but not enough to test positive. Individuals will be asked to retest as soon as possible at the testing center Sun.-Fri. 7am-6pm. The retest should show whether individuals were just exposed and mounted a minor viral response that does not develop into full blown infection, resulting in a negative retest result, or whether the original test caught the beginning of the infectious cycle and an increased viral load will be present at the retest resulting in a positive retest result. Directions will come from the Command Center on the proper procedures to take.
ASYMPTOMATIC CLOSE CONTACTS
The university has also updated its approach to testing of asymptomatic close contacts. Per both VU Return to Campus protocol and CDC guidance, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic persons, two days prior to positive test collection) until the time the person is isolated.
If an individual is identified as an asymptomatic close contact, they will now quarantine for a 10-day period. This has been updated from the previous 14-day quarantine period, per CDC guidance, but comes with additional requirements for days 10 to 14.
When the 10-day quarantine period ends, for days 10 to 14 after last exposure, Vanderbilt community members identified as close contacts must not unmask at any time in public, including in dining locations, and must wear their mask even in the presence of those in their residence. Individuals should eat alone or complete any activities alone that require removing a mask in a private space during those four days.
Individuals who have been vaccinated will no longer need to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact and their last exposure to a positive person was later than two weeks after their vaccination (the second of two doses for two-dose vaccines, or the single dose for one-dose vaccines) is complete. The vaccinated person will be exempt from quarantine from the two week mark, ONLY, if they submit their vaccination records to the Public Health Command Center. To submit the vaccination record, please visit the following link.
As a reminder, all individuals should do the following at all times to help slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Perform daily self-monitoring for symptoms. The VandySafe app includes this feature.
- Immediately self-isolate if they develop symptoms and contact the Student Health Center if a student and Occupational Health if faculty, staff or postdoc for assessment and testing.
- Wear a mask, stay at least six feet from others, wash their hands, avoid crowds and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For more information about the university’s spring semester testing, quarantine and isolation protocols, visit the Return to Campus website.
If asymptomatic close contacts develop symptoms, they should contact Occupational Health.
POSITIVE CASE AND RECOVERY
Postdocs who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home* and follow current CDC guidance. To help determine the risk of potential exposure to co-workers and others on campus, as part of the Vanderbilt Public Health Central Command Center, Occupational Health will conduct contact tracing with the individual who has tested positive. Those individuals determined to be a potential close contact will be given the name of the individual who tested positive so that their risk can be further assessed. Occupational Health may contact the supervisor/mentor/department chair if further contact tracing information for the COVID-19 positive individual is needed; however, the actual test result (and any other protected health information) will not be disclosed. For more information on contact tracing, please visit the contact tracing page.
Vanderbilt is following CDC’s recommended recovery strategy. If an individual had symptoms and a positive COVID-19 test, recovery status (and clearance to return to campus/work) is assigned when: 1) the individual remains fever free without the use of fever reducers for 24 hours, 2) symptoms have improved, and 3) it has been at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared. If the individual tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, the individual can be cleared to return to campus 10 days after the test as long as the individual does not develop symptoms. If the individual develops symptoms, then the individual must follow the recovery strategy for those with symptoms. Notification for return to on-campus activities is directed through Occupational Health.
*On-campus residential staff will receive separate guidance from the Office of Academic Affairs and Residential Faculty.
COVID-19 SCENARIOS FOR POSTDOCS
I HAVE SYMPTOMS
STAY HOME: Notify Occupational Health Center (OHC) for assessment and testing. Notify supervisor, department chair and/or lead researcher.
PAUSE: Stay off-campus and quarantine while awaiting test result.
ALL CLEAR: My test is negative so I can return to campus as long as I am not a close contact.
I HAVE A COVID-19 POSITIVE TEST RESULT
STAY HOME: Notify OHC and fill out Public Health Central Command Center (Command Center) webform on the Return to Campus website. Notify supervisor, department chair and/or lead researcher. Complete contact tracing with OHC as soon as possible.
PAUSE: Remain off-campus for isolation period, usually 10 days but length can vary.
ALL CLEAR: I completed isolation and can return to campus when released by OHC.
I AM A CLOSE CONTACT
STAY HOME: Complete Command Center webform on the Return to Campus website. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher.
PAUSE: Remain off campus for quarantine period, usually 14 days after last contact but length can vary.
ALL CLEAR: I completed quarantine and can return to campus when released by OHC or Command Center as applicable.