COVID-19 Booster Requirement for Students

Dear Students,

I hope that you are enjoying the early days of the winter break and finding the time to rest and relax. 

I write today to let you know that Bates will require all students, except those with medical exemptions, to receive the COVID-19 booster vaccine when they are eligible to do so. Students are eligible for the booster dose six months after completing the primary COVID-19 vaccination series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or two months after completing the single-dose COVID-19 vaccination of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.

In the past few days, a number of colleges with very high vaccination rates (>95%) have experienced large outbreaks on their campuses, and some have sent students home, closed their campuses, and switched to remote learning. The omicron variant has been identified in a significant number of the cases, and the vast majority of positive cases have occurred in vaccinated individuals. Although we still have a great deal to learn about the omicron variant, the evidence to date indicates that this variant is highly transmissible. Based on the evidence so far, the booster appears to provide significant protection against both infection and serious illness in individuals who are exposed to COVID-19, whereas the two initial rounds of vaccine have reduced efficacy due to immunity waning over time.

As a residential college that offers congregate housing and dining — both of which increase the risk of transmission — it is particularly important, as the omicron variant continues its spread, that students receive the booster, as soon as they become eligible. Our addition of the booster requirement is based on the evidence to date that the booster  will give us the best chance of preserving the in-person student experience in the face of a highly transmissible variant. 

During the first two weeks in February, students will be required to provide the college with an updated image of their vaccine card which notes their booster information. The upload process will be similar to the process we used this summer and will take place via Garnet Gateway. 

If you are eligible for the booster shot and have yet to get it, I urge you to use your time over the winter break to get the booster. You can find places to get the booster shot here. For those not yet eligible, or unable to obtain the booster shot over break, there will be opportunities to obtain the booster once you return to campus. Given the transmissibility of omicron and the increased risks from holiday gatherings and travel, however, I strongly encourage you to obtain the booster in the next couple of weeks if you can, so that re-entry to campus runs as smoothly as possible. 

Thank you for your ongoing partnership in keeping Bates healthy. Further information can be found in this FAQ. As a reminder, the college will be closed December 18 through January 2 and will reopen on January 3. Please direct questions related to the booster shot to Brenna Callahan at Bates Health Services at healthservices@bates.edu. Brenna will begin responding to inquiries and providing assistance on Monday, January 3.

Thank you for your time and attention, and best wishes for the winter break.

All my best,

Joshua McIntosh

Vice President of Campus Life