University of Virginia officials are moving to Jan. 14 the deadline for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to assure students, faculty and staff are at maximum resistance to the omicron variant that has fueled the recent surge of cases.
Officials made the announcement Friday in an email message to the UVa community. The deadline was Feb. 1.
“We have changed the booster deadline because our public health experts are concerned that a spike in serious COVID-19 cases at the start of the semester could strain health care resources and university isolation and quarantine space,” the message states.
The email was signed by UVa President Jim Ryan, Provost Liz Magill, Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis and Dr. K. Craig Kent, of UVa Health.
“By pulling this booster deadline forward, we will ensure that the highest number of UVa community members possible are as protected as they can be from COVID-19 infection, serious illness and hospitalization as the in-person semester gets underway,” the administrators wrote.
Officials noted that booster shots not only provide increased protection against infection and serious illness but that Centers for Disease Control guidelines do not require quarantine of boosted persons who come into contact with COVID cases.
“The accelerated requirement will also preserve university quarantine space and enable more students, staff and faculty to continue learning and working without disruption,” administrators said.
They noted that booster shots are widely available across the country and that the Blue Ridge Health District and other districts offer booster shots.
Faculty with extenuating health circumstances may request a temporary exception to begin their semester teaching remotely, the same as they did for the recent January term.
The officials said moving the booster deadline is an alternative to delaying in-person classes until the current omicron-driven rise in cases subsides.
“A residential academic experience is an essential part of what it means to attend the University of Virginia, and we know how important it is to our students, faculty and staff to start the semester together in person,” they wrote.