The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot will be available to several groups who got the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago. The announcement came out Sept. 27.
The groups include people over the age of 65, long-term care residents and people ages 18 to 64 who are immunocompromised or at an increased risk due to their work setting.
Ellen Lewis, a coordinator in the history department at Lehigh, was able to get her booster shot early.
“I see a rheumatologist because I am immunocompromised, so she suggested it since I am in a high-risk environment, and I actually also teach in the evenings at another college, Muhlenberg, so I am double high-risk,” Lewis said.
Lewis also teaches singing lessons from home. She said her students need to be vaccinated to study with her, but since she received her Pfizer shot six months ago, she followed the suggestion of her doctor.
Lewis experienced side effects after her first two shots but said her arm didn’t hurt after the booster.
Several Lehigh students have already received their booster shots.
Sam Santana, ‘25, got hers in the Dominican Republic before coming to Lehigh for the year.
“It wasn’t required of everybody to get the booster shot but my family, they’re in the Dominican Red Cross, and they were giving (the booster) out to employees,” Santana said. “I am not an employee. I am a family member of an employee, so that is how I was able to get it.”
Santana said her side effects after getting the booster were worse than her two original shots. She said she didn’t have any pain in her arms following the first two shots, but following the booster she experienced a minor headache and fatigue.
Sophia Shukla, ‘24, was able to get her vaccine booster in Maryland.
“With the first dose, my arm hurt. Second dose, I was very nauseous, and the third dose I was even more nauseous,” Shukla said. “I felt a lot more weak compared to the other two doses.”
As of right now, it is unclear whether Lehigh will make a booster shot required for students and faculty.
Provost Nathan Urban said the school will follow the guidance of the CDC in this decision. As of now, the groups currently eligible do not include the majority of students.
Urban said the decision to require the booster will depend on how much of an effect it seems to have and whether it is meant for protecting oneself, or preventing transmission.
“I don’t see any reason we wouldn’t also require the booster,” Urban said.
He said once people are eligible, Lehigh will consider it.
The City of Bethlehem is hosting vaccine clinics for those currently eligible to receive their booster at the SteelStacks throughout October.