The Collegian
Sunday, September 25, 2022

Here's how to get the updated COVID-19 booster on and off campus

<p>A vile of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.</p>

A vile of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The University of Richmond is planning to have a vaccine clinic from noon to 7 p.m. on Sept. 29 in the Robins Center, said Sunni Brown, director of media and public relations. 

Updated COVID-19 boosters became available on Sept. 14 through the Richmond and Henrico health districts. 

UR encourages but does not require booster shots, according to its vaccine policy

The on-campus vaccine clinic will offer updated Pfizer and Moderna shots at no cost, according to the university’s COVID-19 update. The update also stated that appointments must be scheduled through a university-specific link by 6 p.m. on Sept. 26. 

Students should bring a completed screening form and a printed or electronic copy of their COVID-19 vaccine card to the appointment, according to the update. 

Insurance will not be required for the school’s clinic, but students with insurance are still advised to bring a copy of their insurance information, according to the COVID-19 update. 

Emily Rich, a COVID-19 epidemiologist for the Richmond and Henrico health districts, said the vaccine is bivalent, meaning that it protects against multiple variants of COVID-19.

“Getting this booster before fall and winter season really will offer you with the best and widest protection against COVID-19,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these vaccines for most people older than 12, and a tool on their website can be used to determine individual eligibility.

Rich said the city was not anticipating overwhelmed vaccine clinics. 

“There are enough vaccines that we're not worried that anybody would not be able to find a place to get vaccinated,” she said. 

Kathryn Jacobsen, a UR health studies professor and an infectious disease epidemiologist, said that students should get vaccinated sometime this fall to maximize their immunity. 

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“The timing for this isn't quite as simple as rush out and get it now,” she said. “Because people's status with when they last have COVID-19 or last set of shots is going to be really variable.”

People who have been boosted or have had COVID-19 in the last three months are advised to wait on getting the new booster, Jacobsen said. 

Future case rates are difficult to predict, but Jacobsen offered advice on timing the vaccine to get peak immunity during the holiday season. If someone plans to travel in the next few months, they should consider scheduling their vaccination to provide maximum protection during their trip, she said.

Scientists don’t know exactly when people experience peak immunity, she said. The CDC recommends that people at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 get the booster shot

Jacobsen also acknowledged concerns about vaccine symptoms but pointed out that the impacts of COVID-19 are much worse. 

Community spread of COVID-19 has been high for the last month but is steadily declining, Rich said. 

Rich and Jacobsen voiced similar sentiments that cases might increase going into the colder months, following the pattern of other pathogens like the flu.

“We have seen [COVID-19] surges during the fall and winter seasons in the previous years,” Rich said. “So, there is a high possibility that that could happen again.”

Rich said it is safe to get the new COVID-19 booster and a flu shot at the same time.

The Richmond and Henrico County Health Department’s website is always up to date with new information, Rich said. They also have active Twitter and Instagram accounts that people can follow to stay in the loop. 

To get vaccinated, visit any of the Richmond and Henrico Health District’s events. She explained that people can also find a clinic or pharmacy offering boosters and sign up for an appointment online.  

Contact city & state writer Kalina Kulig at kalina.kulig@richmond.edu.

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