COVID-19 Team Update: New national requirements and vaccination information

Banner showing COVID-19 virus

Last week we sent you information on the COVID-19 vaccine. Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to send periodic communications on this topic to keep you aware of any important updates on the vaccine, its distribution, and eligibility as it pertains to the Smithsonian.

Since our last communication, more states have moved into their next phase of vaccinations or expanded eligibility. This means more people are currently able to be vaccinated. Please be aware, each state, and sometimes smaller localities within the states, determines who is qualified within each phase.

Please visit your state and local health district websites regularly to see if you qualify for vaccination based on your health, age, or occupation. For your reference, we have included this list of state resources. If you are unsure if you qualify for vaccination, after reviewing your state’s COVID-19 eligibility criteria, please reach out directly to your health department for guidance.

The COVID Response Team has identified units with staff most likely to be eligible for vaccination at this time. Those unit Directors have been provided documentation for their staff to prove their work status. Keep in mind that most of the current qualifying criteria involve public health and safety, continuity of food and supply chains, and continuity of government. While your position may appear to qualify based on job title, it might not be applicable in this circumstance. At the moment, not all employees who are considered essential by the Smithsonian Institution are eligible for the vaccine. If, after speaking to your health department, you find you fall in this eligibility category and have not received documentation, please reach out to your supervisor.

This is the largest mass vaccination effort the country has undertaken. It will take time. As production of vaccine increases, and more vaccine types are approved for use, vaccinations will become more available. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

We also want to make you aware that the CDC has issued new travel guidance, specifically related to international travel. Those traveling into the country must test negative within one to three days prior to their trip and must be tested again three to five days after arriving. The CDC asks that all arriving international travelers remain at home or quarantined for seven days after arrival, even if their COVID test results are negative. To learn more about this guidance, please visit this website

If you are considering personal travel within the United States, be aware that many states and localities still have quarantine restrictions in place. Before you travel, ensure that you are following guidance of the location where you are visiting and honor the rules and regulations of your home jurisdiction upon your return.

We expect that additional COVID-19 guidance will be issued by the new Administration. A mandate for federal employees and contractors to wear facing coverings while inside government buildings and on federal lands has been made. We believe this mandate is similar to the Smithsonian’s current face covering policy for on-site employees and contractors. However, we will be reviewing this policy, and any other administration guidance that may impact our risk mitigation measures. Additionally, President Biden has mandated face coverings on airplanes, buses, and trains.These new mandates support the fact that wearing face coverings properly slows the spread of COVID-19, keeps those you encounter safe, and offers protection to the wearer. Please continue properly wearing your face coverings whenever on Smithsonian property.

Thank you all for your enthusiasm and questions related to the vaccine. Please visit the COVID-19 Response Team website for the latest information and should you have additional questions, please reach out via email.

Stay safe and be well,
COVID-19 Response Team

Posted: 22 January 2021
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni is primarily responsible for "other duties as assigned" in the Office of Communications and External Affairs. She has been with the Smithsonian since 2006 and plans to be interred in the Smithson crypt.

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