GW encourages students to receive booster shots as Omicron variant spreads

Media Credit: File Photo by Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

The email states the Delta variant has accounted for “nearly all” COVID-19 cases on campus this fall, but breakthrough infections typically remain mild and relatively uncommon.

Officials “strongly encourage” students to receive their COVID-19 booster shots in compliance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an email from the University announced Friday.

The email states GW will not yet require the booster shot, but full vaccination in addition to a booster shot is “the best way” to stay protected from all COVID-19 mutations, like the Omicron variant. The email states the Delta variant – which elevated the nationwide caseload this summer – has accounted for “nearly all” COVID-19 cases on campus this fall, but breakthrough infections typically remain mild and relatively uncommon.

The Omicron variant has spread across the globe in the past month, appearing in San Francisco as the first case in the United States Wednesday before the D.C. area recorded its first three cases in Maryland Friday.

“Immune protection from vaccines decreases after six months, so a booster shot is an important way to stay protected,” the email reads.

Ray Lucas, the University’s COVID-19 coordinator, said officials are currently deciding whether to mandate the booster shot in the future.

“A booster requirement is under active consideration now that it has been recommended for all adults and not just vulnerable populations,” Lucas said in an email. “When that decision is made there will be a campus wide notification.”

The CDC strengthened its recommendation for booster shots Monday, approving them for anyone 18 years or older. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for all adults late last month.

University officials said the Medical Faculty Associates’ West End location at offers booster doses of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson&Johnson at 2300 M St. They said local health departments, retail pharmacies and doctors offices also are administering the booster.

GW Nursing is partnering with My Dr’s Pharmacy to administer booster shots in Virginia, according to the email Friday.

Officials said they “urge” GW community members to remain cautious and continue wearing masks and getting tested to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

They said students who get their booster shot should upload documentation to their medical portal.

The email states that the University’s public health and experts are “closely monitoring” all developments with the Omicron variant. They said GW’s Public Health Lab has been conducting genetic sequencing on COVID-19 tests and it has detected no cases of the Omicron variant.

Officials also announced in the email that the University’s COVID-19 testing centers will close Dec. 23 and reopen the week of Jan.3. They said students in need of a test before their trip home should schedule their COVID-19 tests 48 to 72 hours in advance.

Officials said students who complete their COVID-19 tests prior to 7 p.m. Dec. 22 will receive their results by the end of the day Dec. 23.

They said students whose next test date falls during Winter Break should schedule their COVID-19 tests for the first day they get back to campus.

“It will take about an hour from when you test until your GWorld card is activated,” officials said.

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