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President Leahy Sends COVID-19 Booster Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently approved the bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine, which protects against the first strain of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. This booster helps the body’s response to infection at a very high level.

Following months of lockdowns and COVID-19 protocols since March 2020, initial vaccines started to roll out in Dec. 2020, while the general public was eligible to receive their doses in spring 2021. Once the initial two doses are given, boosters began to be offered to give protection from the potential severity of the coronavirus, and to build herd immunity.

According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), 58 percent of college students have received at least one booster, including 7 percent who have received two or more.

President Leahy has kept the Monmouth community updated on the University’s protocol regarding vaccination. In his Nov. 7 email, Leahy said, “The bivalent booster is highly recommended, but not required in order to be in compliance with the University’s COVID-19 vaccination policy.”

Even though the bivalent booster is not required, health experts say that getting any boosters is still very important. Protecting yourself and others from severe infection helps keep Monmouth a safe and comfortable place for all.

“Students can best protect themselves and the Monmouth community by staying up-to-date with their Covid vaccines and getting an annual seasonal flu vaccine,” said Kathy Maloney, Director of Health Services.

Sabine Saavedra, a sophomore English student, said “I currently don’t have plans on getting the bivalent vaccine, as I have already received three doses of the Pfizer vaccine some time ago. I have been doing just fine with those doses. However, I will consider getting it if I find it absolutely necessary in case infection rates rise.”

Saavedra continued, “I believe that getting the vaccine is important for protecting the people around us. I think that people should get at least the first two doses. As for any boosters, I think that should be up to the person. I know of some people who received the first two doses, and they have no trouble with taking care of themselves against the virus. If people think they are better protected with a booster, they have every right to get it.”

Getting the first two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna or first dose of Johnson and Johnson is the first step of preventing severe infection. Once this is done, getting boosted is crucial to keep that protection. With the continuous approval of boosters by the CDC, boosters seem to be most popular in the older generations.

Most restaurants, community centers, and stores do not require vaccination anymore, but getting a booster also provides a better experience while doing activities and being around others. Crowded events and places, like seeing a Broadway show, concert, or sports games, can serve as super spreaders of COVID-19. Being boosted decreases the chance of infection and makes you and others feel safer going to these events.

Those who are immunocompromised have a higher chance of developing severe infection. If a close family member or friend is susceptible to severe infection of COVID-19, health experts say that getting the latest booster is crucial in protecting their health.

The ACHA pointed out that 10 percent of college students got some of all of their vaccines on their college campus. Throughout the Fall semester, Monmouth has offered flu and COVID-19 vaccine clinics.
Dec. 7 in Anacon A from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. will be the last chance this semester to get the bivalent booster on campus. If this clinic does not work for students’ schedules, stores close to Monmouth who also offer the booster are Walgreens on 205 Morris Avenue in Long Branch and 216 Route 36 in West Long Branch.

President Leahy noted, “As additional variants continue to surface, and instances of COVID-19 remain prevalent in our university and local communities, we encourage you to protect yourself with the bivalent booster.”