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Vaccine Watch: University of Oregon to require COVID-19 booster shots for students and staff

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EUGENE, Ore. — The University of Oregon will require that students and staff get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot as soon as they are eligible, college president Michael Schill announced in a statement this week.

The requirement is still waiting on UO's review of existing research and government guidance, with more details forthcoming.

"Public health experts continue to stress that vaccines are the most powerful tool for protecting health and reducing serious illness from COVID-19," Schill wrote. "This is encouraging given the highly vaccinated status on our campus and other, existing mitigation steps. Recent scientific data overwhelmingly supports the effectiveness of booster shots."

UO announced in May that it would require that students and staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 before coming on campus for the fall term, though Oregon law allows for a broad list of exceptions. According to Schill, more than 95 percent of students, faculty, and staff are currently vaccinated.

Schill said that the university is closely monitoring the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Students and staff were encouraged to get booster shots over their winter break, if eligible.

Under CDC guidelines, individuals 16 and older should get their booster six months after receiving a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and two months after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"Boosters are the next step in the evolving public health strategy in which we have adapted and responded as a community during the pandemic," Schill continued. "During winter term, we will also continue to rely on our layered health strategies such as wearing masks, testing protocols, and conducting case management.

"Again, thank you for your vigilance and resilience. I know the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the pandemic is wearing on us all. I hope that you are able to take some time in the coming weeks for rest and restoration. I am very proud of the way the UO community has come together to continue to learn, discover, and serve."