Quinnipiac mandates COVID-19 booster vaccine to combat omicron variant as CT cases rise

Nicole McIsaac, News Editor

Quinnipiac University will require all students, faculty and staff to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine and upload the record to Student Health Services patient portal before Feb. 15, with the exception of students who have approved vaccine exemptions. 

We have been closely monitoring the latest developments with the omicron variant and the sharply rising cases of COVID-19 across the country, and especially in the Northeast,” President Judy Olian wrote in her email to students on Monday. “… We all want a successful spring semester together and a healthy and safe living and learning environment.” 

Peyton McKenzie

The university will hold an on-campus booster clinic in partnership with Griffin Hospital on Jan. 31, and Feb. 1. Senior Medical Advisor Dr. David Hill said although details on the clinic are still being considered, vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna will be offered on campus. 

“Boosting really raises up our antibody levels to a degree that we still may be infected, but it’s less likely and certainly less likely that we would require hospitalization or die from the disease,” Hill said. “Boosting helps us in a time where coronavirus, omicron, is really raging in our community at large and in the U.S.” 

As of publication, Connecticut currently has a daily test positivity of 21.52%, according to the state’s official website.

Abbey Strong, a sophomore nursing major, said she received her booster shot in November and agrees with the university’s decision. She said that she is fully aware that there’s no cure for COVID-19, but has been getting vaccinated as long as she’s been able.

I feel if there’s anything I can do that scientifically exhibits a correlation between vaccination and possible protection for the vulnerable, it’s my ethical obligation to obtain it.”

— Abbey Strong, a sophomore nursing major

“I feel if there’s anything I can do that scientifically exhibits a correlation between vaccination and possible protection for the vulnerable, it’s my ethical obligation to obtain it,” Strong said. “In more casual ways, too, fighting a virus that mutates with preventative measures as fully as we can at Quinnipiac maximizes our chances of staying on campus.”

Similarly, other students who have also already received their booster shots said they are confident that Quinnipiac is taking the proper precautionary measures to ensure safety throughout the community for the start of the semester. 

“I feel really good about Quinnipiac mandating the COVID-19 booster,” said John Quinn, a junior nursing major. “I think it will help keep our breakouts down and allow us to stay on campus. I feel that this decision is completely fair as it is a small price to pay to protect yourselves and neighbors.” 

However, some students on campus who do not agree with the booster requirement said they are frustrated with the university’s decision. 

Marcello Sciarrino, a third-year 3+1 finance major, said he does not believe the student body should be required to get the booster shot.  

“The majority of college students are healthy and young, and it would be very rare to see a college student die from COVID-19,” Sciarrino said. “If the basis is that it will prevent the virus from spreading on campus, that is just false as many major scientists have said that vaccinated and unvaccinated people carry the same risk of getting COVID-19, but not being hospitalized.” 

Regardless of age, a recent study in Denmark revealed that vaccinated individuals who receive the booster shot are 56% less likely to become infected with the omicron variant in comparison to those without the additional shot. 

“As many against the vaccine will argue, COVID-19 has a greater impact on older generations than college students,” Strong said. “I do know, though, that I can carry a mild virus and transmit it to someone who may experience a deadly bout. I think Quinnipiac students need to recognize that more in their decisions.”

Rooster Smith, a first-year biomedical science major, said he has not received his booster shot, and does not agree with the university’s decision because he feels it places a stigma on the community at large. 

I’m not against getting vaccinated, I’m vaccinated myself. I have an issue with people defining themselves and judging others solely based on their decision to get a shot or not.”

— Rooster Smith, a first-year biomedical science major

“My problem lies with the school making it a requirement rather than just recommending it,” Smith said. “I’m not against getting vaccinated, I’m vaccinated myself. I have an issue with people defining themselves and judging others solely based on their decision to get a shot or not.” 

Hill said the university has no current set plans for individuals who do not receive the booster shot by the scheduled deadline, but encourages the community to continue to work together to resume the previous campus atmosphere. 

“We haven’t quite decided, but we are looking at this by not monetarily penalizing students or taking away liberties,” Hill said. “… Our goal is not to be continuously punitive for our student population. We like this collaborative working-together environment, we feel that this is the best way to be together on campus.” 

Despite altered guidelines before the start of the semester, Hill said that the university plans to have “as much as a normal semester as possible” and will continue to do what is already in place. 

“The hope is that the kind of activities and the kinds of social gatherings that we had (in the fall) we will still be able to do this spring,” Hill said. 

Students are encouraged to purchase at-home rapid test kits for personal use to increase testing that will continue to be available through the university. Pre-arrival proof of testing will still be required before the start of the semester. Weekly ongoing PCR tests will still remain for unvaccinated individuals on campus. 

“We’re talking about having students bring a supply of tests with them, and we will also be working on having a supply of rapid tests that students can access,” Hill said. “Students may be doing more self-testing rather than having 100 students lining up on a Monday morning at Student Health Services to be tested.” 

Until then, the university will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases. Olian said more information will be released later this week on the preparation for the upcoming semester.