Syracuse University will require Covid-19 booster shots for all eligible students, faculty, and staff who “routinely access any Syracuse University campus location or facility” before the spring semester starts, the institution announced on Monday.
Individuals eligible for the booster-shot requirement either received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, the New York university said.
In requiring a third shot, Syracuse joins a small list of colleges that are ramping up their vaccination requirements as the new Omicron variant has begun to sweep the globe. Public-health experts are racing to study whether the variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant, or is better at evading the protection offered by vaccines.
Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said vaccinations are now the key to curbing the spread of Covid variants on campuses.
“I think making sure that everyone on campus is vaccinated and boosted when they’re eligible is the centerpiece strategy now,” Benjamin told The Chronicle. “In the past, it was contact tracing, testing, and masking. I think the difference now is that the centerpiece of the strategy is vaccination.”
He still recommends, however, that campuses continue their testing and masking policies at appropriate times.
More than 1,100 colleges and universities are requiring students, employees, or both to be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a database compiled by The Chronicle.
At least two other colleges have announced they will require booster shots. Smith College, a private liberal-arts college for women in Northampton, Mass., will require all eligible students, faculty, and staff to receive booster shots by January 21, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.
One of the first institutions to require booster shots for the spring semester was Wesleyan University, in Connecticut, NPR reported. “Some people don’t like to be first. But in this case, being first for public health doesn’t seem to be a particularly risky place to be,” Michael S. Roth, the president of Wesleyan, told NPR.
Francie Diep contributed reporting.