UI officials urge COVID-19 booster shots for spring semester

Mariah%2C+Carle+Pharmacist%2C+fills+pediatric+doses+of+the+Pfizer+vaccine+at+the+Carle+Health+vaccination+pop-up+on+Nov.+6.+The+university+urges+students+to+get+their+booster+shots+before+the+spring+semester.+

Cameron Krasucki

Mariah, Carle Pharmacist, fills pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the Carle Health vaccination pop-up on Nov. 6. The university urges students to get their booster shots before the spring semester.

By Lilli Bresnahan, Staff Writer

University officials are recommending that eligible adults get their COVID-19 booster shots, according to two Massmails sent to students, staff and faculty on Monday morning.

School officials said they expect everyone who is eligible to have their booster shot before the spring semester. 

This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced their official recommendation for all adults to receive the booster on Nov. 29.

The CDC made their recommendation after the Omicron variant, a highly contagious strain of COVID-19 was first detected in South Africa around late November. 

As of Monday, the variant has been detected in 17 states. It hasn’t been found in Illinois, but health experts said it’s only a matter of time.

Chancellor Robert Jones said in Monday’s Massmail that officials are “strongly recommending” that adults, 18 or older, receive a COVID-19 booster shot.

According to the Massmail, 94% of the University community is already fully vaccinated. 

Based on the data from the school’s testing dashboard, 95% of undergraduate students and 97% of graduate students are fully vaccinated. 

Additionally, a Massmail sent from University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen, encouraged everyone who is eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot to prepare for the spring semester. 

Now, with data indicating that vaccine efficacy wanes and with the emergence of new variants of the virus, getting a booster shot is an important way to protect yourselves, our campuses and our communities,” Killeen said in the Massmail.

The McKinley Health Center also sent an email on Monday morning continuing to support the booster shots. 

As stated in the email, the CDC encourages individuals to receive the same booster as their previous vaccination series. But “mix-and-match is allowed, and there is supporting evidence which is strongest for individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccination as the primary vaccine.” 

According to the email from McKinley, all Moderna boosters are at half-dose, but this could change in the future. 

The CDC’s COVID-19 data tracker shows that 58.8% of the population are fully vaccinated in Champaign County. In Illinois, 72% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. 

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