SOU encouraging COVID-19 booster shots
Just one week out from the start of in-person learning for winter term, Southern Oregon University is encouraging members of the campus community to get a coronavirus booster shot as soon as they are eligible.
The announcement was sent internally Tuesday via President Linda Schott’s office ahead the Jan. 3 start date.
“Like you, we have been monitoring the Omicron variant, and the best guidance from local, state and national public health experts is that the COVID-19 vaccines are the most powerful tool for protecting health and reducing serious illness,” read the statement from Schott, shared by a university marketing official. “Recent scientific data supports the effectiveness of booster shots in furthering our collective safety.”
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will follow the science and the advice of public health officials and will require that all students, faculty and staff remain fully vaccinated.”
The president’s message then said it is continuing to require full vaccination for students, faculty, and staff, which “means receiving a COVID-19 booster as soon as you are eligible.”
But, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “fully vaccinated” is someone who is two weeks out from their second Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine. Those definitions are something top health officials, including the director of the CDC, say they’re re-examining.
Nicolle Aleman, SOU’s director of marketing, acknowledged to the Mail Tribune that it is anticipated the definition of “fully vaccinated” could change soon.
“Until that happens, we are encouraging those who are eligible to receive their boosters to provide themselves with the best protection available, and to upload proof of the booster shot when they do to our system,” she wrote. “The actual requirements may change when and if … the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ changes.”
Aleman also offered up a statement from Janet Fratella, vice president of university advancement and executive director of the SOU Foundation, which echoed some of the same points as the president.
“The best guidance from local, state and national public health experts is that the COVID-19 vaccines are the most powerful tool for protecting health and reducing serious illness,” Fratella said. “Recent scientific data supports the effectiveness of booster shots in furthering our collective safety.”
She touted the 93% vaccination rate among students and employees and trusts they are committed to “our shared safety.” Fratella also recognized, however, that many students attending SOU may not be eligible for a booster for several more months.
SOU’s announcement on boosters came on the same day Oregon State University made the shot a requirement for everyone on campus when they return from winter break.
On Dec. 20, University of Oregon became the first higher education institution in the state to require a booster upon eligibility.
Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.