Lehigh announced that they anticipate requiring the COVID-19 booster vaccine for the spring semester. The final decision is pending a meeting of the COVID Response Team (CRT). Before finalizing, the CRT will be talking to people from other universities and medical experts and also looking at the CDC medical guidelines, Provost Nathan Urban said.
Urban said they are hoping to have it figured out this week and have an email come out with a decision.
Urban said the school is trying to avoid a situation similar to Cornell University.
The Omicron variant was identified on Cornell’s campus, prompting the university to enter a “Alert Level Red,” and immediately go online on Dec. 14.
In response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and evidence of the Omicron variant, Cornell is moving to Alert Level Red and announcing a number of immediate measures, including final exams moving online as of noon, Dec. 14.https://t.co/Scj0FZBEuA
— Cornell University (@Cornell) December 14, 2021
“It seems like boosters are one of the main tools to try and prevent something like that happening,” Urban said.
Some universities and colleges have already announced that they will be requiring students to get the COVID-19 booster shot. These include Princeton University, Bryn Mawr College, New York University and more. Additional schools are at the stage where they have announced they are considering requiring the booster.
Similar to Lehigh’s requirement for the COVID-19 vaccine, the booster requirement would apply to students, faculty and staff. It would also have the same repercussions and exemptions for those who do not get the shot, Urban said. With the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, students who were not compliant with the policy were dropped from classes. Urban said this had to happen in a small number of cases in the fall semester.
He said the school would continue to offer exemptions for those who previously had it for the vaccine.
Urban said the CRT is still looking at the timeline of when this requirement would be in effect.
“We need to both make the final decision and if the decision is to require it, then the questions around the timeline and process,” he said. “We want to make sure that we have a way of dealing with situations where some people might not yet be eligible because they only got their second dose less than six months ago, to make sure that we’re prepared for those kinds of cases.”
Currently everyone 18 years or older who received their initial Pfizer or Moderna shots six or more months ago, or who received their Johnson & Johnson dose two or more months ago is eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster.
“It’s a quickly changing situation, but we’re trying to do our best to keep ahead of it,” Urban said.