Swarthmore held a COVID-19 booster clinic for students, faculty, and staff on Jan. 21 and plans to host three more in February, March, and April, according to Student Health Services Director Casey Anderson.
The college’s push for the Swarthmore community to receive their booster shot comes after a national surge in Omicron-related COVID-19 cases and CDC recommendations that all eligible adults over 18 years of age receive the booster shot. The college is reporting a total of four COVID-19 cases since Jan. 29, a significant drop from the nearly 40 positive results detected following the return of students and faculty from winter break.
In a Jan. 7 email to the Swarthmore community, President Valerie Smith explained both the college’s booster shot requirement and the offering of booster clinics on campus.
“In keeping with recommendations from the CDC and consistent with our COVID-19 vaccine requirements that are already in place, we will require all eligible students, faculty, and staff members to receive a booster shot by either Jan. 31 or, if not yet eligible by Jan. 31, within 30 days of becoming eligible for the booster,” she wrote.
In a separate email on the same day, Anderson outlined details of the booster shot clinics on campus as well as the student testing plan.
“For those who cannot obtain a booster, the college is partnering with Rite Aid Pharmacy to provide Moderna COVID-19 booster clinics on campus on the following dates: Jan. 21, Feb. 23, and March 23,” Anderson wrote.
The college also plans to hold a clinic in April at an undetermined date.
In an interview with The Phoenix, Anderson reported that 78% of students had uploaded booster vaccine documentation to the student health portal as of Friday, Jan. 28. Anderson noted that students who received initial vaccine doses in Fall of 2021 wouldn’t become eligible for boosters until this Spring but urged boosted students to upload proof of vaccination.
“For students who have already received their booster, it is important that they upload documentation to their student health portal by the deadline of January 31, 2022,” she said.
During the booster clinic offered by the college on Jan. 21, 85 community members received their COVID-19 booster at the clinic on campus, according to Anderson.
In an interview with The Phoenix, Ryan Rodiguez ’24, who received his booster shot at the college’s booster clinic on Jan. 21, described his experience.
“I enjoyed the convenience of scheduling and the overall ability for me to acquire my booster on campus,” Rodriguez said. “I think these clinics are a wonderful thing especially given the new requirements to be boosted.”
Besides receiving the booster shot, Anderson summarized other preventive measures for students to follow regarding COVID-19.
“Students can help minimize the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to prioritize other mitigation efforts on campus including surveillance testing, masking, frequent hand hygiene, and reporting known exposure or symptoms to the Student Health Center for evaluation,” Anderson said.
Anderson also offered advice on best practices for mask usage.
“When deciding what mask is best for you, think about what mask is most comfortable and one that you can wear for many hours throughout the day without having to readjust or touch your face frequently,” she said. “Our infectious disease consultant from Temple Hospital recommends the use of three-layer surgical masks. You may also choose to wear KN95 and N95 masks but they are not required at this time.”
While the college continues to stress the importance of maintaining personal safety protocols, such as mask-wearing, they also emphasize the importance of obtaining a booster for the well-being of the college community.
“The data shows we can significantly minimize the impact of COVID-19 on ourselves and each other by being up to date on our COVID-19 vaccinations, including by receiving a booster shot,” Smith wrote.