Emerson will require all students, faculty, and staff to receive a COVID-19 booster shot prior to the beginning of the spring semester, college officials announced Wednesday.
The decision comes just days after the recently discovered Omicron variant of the virus was detected in Massachusetts, raising renewed concern about the ability of variants to dodge protection garnered by vaccination. The booster mandate extends to all three of the college’s campuses—Boston, Los Angeles, and Kasteel Well
Emerson required all community members to be fully vaccinated prior to their arrival on campus for the fall semester.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, told CNN on Wednesday that the country was likely to change its definition of what constitutes a fully vaccinated individual to include booster shots.
All Emerson community members who received their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines more than six months ago are now eligible to receive boosters under state and federal guidelines. Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible two months after their first shot.
Emerson joins the University of Massachusetts Amherst in requiring boosters, as other schools around the area have yet to announce decisions despite requiring vaccination ahead of the fall semester.
In addition to the booster requirement, the college will require community members to get a COVID-19 test at the college’s testing center twice within their first seven days of arrival to campus. The second must be at least three days after the initial test, the Wednesday afternoon email from “COVID Lead” and Associate Vice President for Campus Life Erik Muurisepp said.
Emerson is recommending students get tested prior to their return to campus, but will not require them to do so.
The decision also comes amid renewed fears that Massachusetts and other states could see a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases as the winter season approaches. On Tuesday, the state reported 3,720 new cases of the virus and 51 deaths. More than a thousand residents were hospitalized, the state reported.