October 27, 2022
A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator:
- Students will be required to get an updated, bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster by the start of the spring semester.
- Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get their updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters as soon as possible.
- Pop-up clinics on Cross Campus will provide additional booster availability in November.
- Paying attention to symptoms protects you and others.
A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator
Dear Members of the Yale Community,
While attention to COVID-19 may appear to be receding, the pandemic has not yet ended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 community level for New Haven County remains at medium. We continue to see on-campus transmission, which has recently been associated with individuals either ignoring their symptoms or relying on a single negative rapid antigen test to rule out COVID-19. In my message last week, I provided more detailed guidance about what to do if you have symptoms, including testing, wearing a mask, and staying away from others.
Bolstering immunity with updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters adds important layers of protection for ourselves and others. In this week’s message, I will provide information on a new requirement for the updated COVID-19 vaccine booster.
Updated COVID-19 vaccine booster requirement for students
Since it was introduced late in 2020, vaccination has been a mainstay of our defense against COVID-19. Indeed, the high rate of vaccination in our community has played an essential role in enabling us to resume so many of the in-person activities that make campus life vibrant. At the same time, experience and research have shown that vaccine-induced immunity can wane over time, and new COVID-19 variants can challenge our immune defenses. Accordingly, when bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters were authorized last month, the CDC revised the definition of what it means to be up to date on COVID-19 vaccination to include these bivalent boosters, which target the COVID-19 variants circulating now. More specifically, individuals are now considered to be up to date after completing a primary vaccine series and receiving, when eligible, the most recent booster dose recommended by the CDC.
Current university policy requires all students, faculty, staff, and postdoctoral/postgraduate trainees—other than those with an approved medical or religious exemption—to receive a primary COVID-19 vaccine series and to obtain a booster shot within 14 days of eligibility. Additionally, based on recent CDC recommendations, the university will require all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students—other than those with an approved medical or religious exemption—to receive an updated, bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster by the start of the spring semester, even if they have previously received a monovalent booster.
Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to receive an updated, bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible for one.
When should I get an updated, bivalent booster?
As I have written previously, the updated, bivalent boosters provide broader protection from COVID-19, which may be particularly desirable during the holiday season, when indoor gatherings and travel may increase risk of COVID-19 transmission. Therefore, getting an updated, bivalent booster as soon as possible is highly recommended.
However, students may receive their updated, bivalent booster any time between now and the start of the spring semester in order to comply with the university requirement. Any student who is unable to obtain an updated booster before returning to campus for the spring semester will be given an opportunity to schedule a booster appointment on campus after their return.
Where can I get an updated, bivalent booster?
- Students (as well as faculty, staff, and Yale Health members) may schedule a Pfizer booster appointment through the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine Program(the Yale Program).
- Pfizer and Moderna boosters are also available at clinics and pharmaciesaround the state.
- To make it convenient for students to get their updated boosters, the Yale Program will hold pop-up COVID-19 booster clinics offering the Pfizer bivalent booster on November 3 and 10:
- Open 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- No appointment needed.
- Located on Cross Campus in front of Sterling Memorial Library.
Remember that individuals may receive either a Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster even if it differs from their primary vaccine series or previous boosters.
How do I make sure the university has my updated booster information?
Documentation of an updated COVID-19 vaccine booster can be shared with the university in one of two ways:
- Automatically, if a vaccine dose was received through the Yale Program; or
- By uploading documentation through the Yale Vaccine Portal, if the vaccine was obtained from another clinic or pharmacy.
In closing, I want to share a point that bears repeating. If you are feeling sick, please take care of yourself and those around you by wearing a mask, avoiding close contact with others, and getting tested right away. (And remember: one negative rapid antigen test does not rule out a COVID-19 infection.) Even if you do not have COVID-19, wearing a mask and avoiding others while you are symptomatic can help limit the spread of other viruses, such as the flu and RSV. Thank you for taking these small steps—they will help keep everyone in our community safer during this busy time.
Stephanie S. Spangler, MD
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator