BU Will Offer COVID Vaccine Boosters to Students, Faculty, and Staff
Three-day November clinic will run separately from annual flu clinics
BU will offer free COVID-19 booster shots in addition to annual flu shots for faculty, staff, and students this fall, Judy Platt, chief health officer and executive director of Student Health Services, announced in an email to the University community September 19.
The COVID monovalent booster vaccines—manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech and approved last week by the Food and Drug Administration—will be administered at a three-day clinic November 1 through 3 at the Fitness & Recreation Center, 915 Commonwealth Ave., from 9 am to 3 pm. Members of the BU community can register here starting October 1 to schedule an appointment.
The boosters “are primarily targeting the more recent Omicron strain, XBB.1.5,” Platt told BU Today. The clinic will be hosted by her office in partnership with Holtzman Medical Group.
Also beginning October 1, “Students can use Patient Connect and employees can visit the Occupational Health Center website to schedule their flu vaccination appointments,” her memo said. Patient Connect is the SHS secure online health management and communications portal for students.
The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remain a top priority.
A study by Yale University and University of North Carolina researchers found that booster shots “on an annual or biannual basis greatly reduce the long-term risk of infection from endemic COVID-19.” (Boosters offer protection against COVID-related infection, severe sickness, and hospitalization, but their efficacy wanes over time.)
“Not getting an updated booster shot…triples the risk of future infection compared with annual boosting,” the researchers found.
The Yale/UNC team found that a booster shot every six months provides “very strong suppression” of COVID infection; according to their study, only one in 10 people who are boosted that often were projected to contract COVID over a six-year period. And 3 out of 10 people were likely to get COVID if they got an annual booster shot. But for those who didn’t get a booster shot at all, the figure rose to 9 out of 10 people.
Writing in the New York Times, Mandy K. Cohen, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also cited the vaccines’ potential usefulness in warding off long COVID: “So far, studies have found that the people who may be more likely than others to get long COVID were unvaccinated against the virus, got severely ill from COVID (though even mild cases can also lead to longer-term symptoms) or had underlying health conditions.”
“The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remain a top priority,” Platt wrote in her memo, which included these additional highlights:
- Although the federal COVID health emergency has ended, people testing positive for the virus are still required to isolate for a minimum of 5 days after symptoms begin. “Individuals must wear a mask when around others through day 10,” the memo said.
- BU makes masks available in high-traffic areas on all of its campuses. People with COVID symptoms can get self-tests at pharmacies around Boston. “Students who need PCR testing can schedule an appointment at SHS and employees can seek out PCR testing through their personal healthcare provider offices or urgent care facilities.”
- “All students, faculty, and staff who provide direct patient-facing healthcare are required to provide documentation of one COVID-19 mRNA booster. We continue to strongly recommend that everyone remain up to date with all CDC COVID-19 vaccination recommendations.”
The University’s Chief Health Office was created last spring to formalize the pandemic-era collaboration between SHS, BU’s Research Occupational Health Program (which serves the health needs of University scientific researchers), and the Occupational Health Center (serving other University employees). Those offices crafted what they call a “unified health service” to coordinate the campus’ symptom screening, testing, and contact tracing.
“The goal,” according to the Chief Health Office website, “is to continue to build on collaborations inspired by the pandemic, align medical policies for these three offices that serve only campus community members, and work towards greater promotion of wellness for our entire campus.”