COVID-19 Vaccination Policy
Dear Ramah Poconos Community,
Below you will find three important updates from our medical committee - please review the information carefully:
- COVID-19 vaccine requirements (change from previous email)
- Pre-camp testing
- Approach to illness at camp
Camp is a different environment than home and school. We are a close community of nearly 700 people, all living in close quarters, and with varied health needs and challenges. For this reason, at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, our medical committee requires that all eligible campers and staff receive the primary Covid vaccine series.
We strongly recommend that all eligible campers and staff receive the bivalent booster, though it will not be required.
Although we believe that receiving the bivalent booster is the best choice for all campers and staff, the change from “required” to “strongly recommended” comes from a reality that the vast majority of overnight camps across the northeast and the US are not doing so, and neither is it a requirement in our schools. We feel our policy must fit in the range of the camping industry standard. We believe that this is a safe and reasonable approach and is supported by the now amended National Ramah Medical Committee policy.
Why the bivalent booster? It provides protection against the original strain as well as the Omicron variant. Booster vaccines received prior to summer 2022 did not include this dual protection. All boosters available since September 2022 (Pfizer and Moderna) are bivalent.
How do I know if I or my child have had the bivalent booster?
The bivalent booster became available in the United States on:
- September 2, 2022 for ages 12 and older
- October 12, 2022 for ages 5-11
- December 9, 2022 for children age 6 months - 4 years (who received the Moderna primary series)
If your last booster dose was before camp in 2022, we strongly recommend a bivalent booster. Each person with additional protection makes it more likely that we will be able to have a “normal” summer.
Pre-camp testing will help ensure that all campers and staff entering our community start from a place of good health. We ask that no one comes to camp feeling sick. More information regarding pre-camp testing to follow in upcoming months.
Treatment of illness at camp:
Our medical team has established criteria for when campers and staff are admitted for illness into our health center (the MARP) which generally include:
- Significant cold symptoms
- Strep throat
- Symptoms of illness that prevent participation in programming
Illnesses that last more than 72 hours and prevent campers or staff from participating in camp are handled individually and parents are contacted. Per our longstanding pre-COVID protocols, this may include picking your child up from camp depending on severity and longevity. A member of the medical team will contact parents if a camper is admitted into the MARP and stays overnight.
We do not plan to routinely test for COVID in asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic campers or staff, unless the medical team determines that knowing the COVID status will materially alter the medical management of a patient. Additionally, campers may present with symptoms which require us to take them to urgent care or the emergency room. If a camper’s symptoms dictate this, the hospital may determine that a COVID test is warranted to clarify a treatment course. If a child tests positive for COVID, they will be required to recover at home.
Our goal remains to create a healthy and safe camp experience with as little disruption due to COVID as possible. Our community needed to alter course numerous times over the past 3 years. If circumstances dictate changing these policies before or during camp, we will update you accordingly.
If you have questions, please contact Sue Schwartzman, RN, Health Center Director, at Marp@ramahpoconos.org.
Rachael Abrams, LCSW-C
Interim Camp Director
Adam C. Ehrlich, MD, MPH