College Intends to Host Future COVID Booster Vaccination Clinics

Vials of the Moderna COVID19 vaccine wait to be given to campus community members. Taken on the campus of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa on Tuesday, April ,20, 2021. (Photo by Martin Tomlinson ’23)

As COVID-19 booster shots become more available to the general public, Swarthmore is preparing to hold booster clinics for students on campus, just as they held vaccination clinics last year. 

Casey Anderson, director of student health and wellness, laid out the college’s booster shot guidelines in an email to The Phoenix and confirmed the future booster clinics. 

“We are planning to hold booster clinics on campus after the CDC expands its criteria. We had great success during the spring 2021 COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and we hope to make the booster available at an on campus clinic,” she wrote. 

According to the CDC, mix-and-matching vaccinations and booster shots are allowed, so no matter which vaccination students originally received, they will be eligible for a booster shot. The college will offer whichever booster is available in pharmacies when they hold the clinics, said Anderson in an email to The Phoenix. 

As of now, those who received either Moderna or Pfizer are eligible for a booster shot if they are 65 years or older, or eighteen years and older and living in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, or live or work in high-risk settings. The booster can also only be administered six months after completing the vaccination series. 

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccination are eligible to receive the booster if they are eighteen years old or older and it has been two months or longer since they were vaccinated. 

Since students received different vaccinations at different times, as of now the entire campus community isn’t yet eligible for a booster shot. 

“Based on information from our pharmacy immunization team, our campus as a whole does not yet qualify for booster vaccinations, however some individuals on campus may in fact qualify independently,” remarked Anderson. 

Students who are eligible for the booster can get their shots at many local pharmacies, such as CVS and Rite Aid, if they don’t want to wait for the booster clinics on campus. 

Anderson was quite clear that it is important for students to get their booster shots when they become eligible for them, although as of now the college is not mandating the booster shot. 

“It is important for a fully vaccinated individual to receive a booster vaccine to ”boost’ their immune response to COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection over time,” she said.

The college has not yet announced its plan for booster clinics, so many students are not aware of them. 

In fact, when asked to comment, both Becca Keating ’23 and Lucas Meyers-Lee ’23 immediately asked, “The college is doing booster clinics? Why didn’t I know about this?”

On Nov. 17, the COVID-19 Planning Group sent out an email informing the entire school that booster clinics will be held on campus once the CDC expands their criteria for who can get their booster shot, but there were no other specificities about the clinics themselves.

Once told about the college’s plans, students were glad to hear that there are intentions for future booster clinics on campus. 

“I’m excited to hear Swarthmore will offer booster shots soon so I can just get it at school,” said Keating.

Some students who are eligible for the booster shot already have also started to receive them at local pharmacies. These students have expressed the ease in which they were able to receive the booster shot, and emphasized that it made them feel a little safer. 

“It was super easy to get, I just went onto the CVS website and made an appointment. When I showed up for my appointment I didn’t have to wait long, and I actually ran into two fellow swatties while I was waiting. I wanted to get it so that I’d feel safer for myself and also when visiting my parents,” said Jesper Rosen ’23. 

Rosen also included that the Springfield mall CVS nurse has a very light hand when administering the booster shot, which they very appreciated. 

The email from the COVID-19 Planning Group also said that the area’s seven day case counts hospitalization average has increased, reminding students to adhere to proper COVID guidelines. Additionally while area averages have increased, transmission rates on Swarthmore campus itself continue to stay low. 

Since the college is following CDC eligibility guidelines for the booster shot, there is as of yet no official date as to when these booster clinics will be set up. The college will continue to monitor the COVID situation, and hopefully students will be able to receive their booster shot on campus soon. 

“As we continue to navigate life through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that each individual’s commitment to our health and safety as a member of our community remains of utmost importance,” concluded Anderson in her email.

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