Is the COVID era over? At Yale University, not remotely.
The Ivy League institution has issued a message to enrollees of the Spring 2023 semester. All must take a shot of the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster in order to attend.
The purpose of the requirement seems unclear, since neither the vaccine nor the booster prevents anyone from getting COVID, much less transmitting it.
In delivering the news, Yale’s “COVID-19 Coordinator” says the pandemic is ongoing:
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.
They’re concerned about transmission — which, again, the booster doesn’t prevent. But the coordinator has noticed an association:
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.
Masking is advised:
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.
Where “others” are concerned, the coordinator touts the protective properties of the booster — though it doesn’t protect others because, again, it doesn’t prevent transmission:
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.
Yale notes the history of campus COVID, and the vibrance brought by vaccines:
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.
[E]xperience and research have shown that vaccine-induced immunity can wane over time, and new COVID-19 variants can challenge our immune defenses.
For those wondering what constitutes a “bivalent” booster, here’s Faqs.In.Gov:
The updated (bivalent) boosters are called “bivalent” because they protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5.The Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 are causing most cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and are predicted to circulate this fall and winter.
As indicated by the CDC, “Updated (bivalent) boosters became available on September 2, 2022, for people 12 years of age and older.”
Yale’s clearly trying to stay up-to-date. With regard to a number of social issues, the school has shown itself to be a leader:
And it seems set to remain diligent:
Back to the booster, the school advises Fall students to go ahead and get injected — especially with Christmas around the corner:
When should I get an updated, bivalent booster?
[T]he 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.
Religious and medical exemptions are on offer. And faculty and staff — who, curiously, are more likely to be in the age bracket of the most vulnerable — are exempt from the mandate.
Meanwhile, the world seems to have moved on from COVID. For easy evidence, see Saturday Night Live’s recent sketch:
Word must not have reached Yale just yet.
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