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UVa requiring COVID vaccine boosters for students and staff for spring semester

The University of Virginia will require all students, faculty and staff to get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in order to study, live, or work on Grounds in the coming spring semester, officials announced on Tuesday.

Officials made the announcement in an email to all UVa community members.

“After careful consideration of current and projected public health conditions, including the progression of the new omicron variant, university leaders, with the advice of our public health experts, have decided to require all UVa students, faculty, and staff to get COVID-19 booster shots,” the email reads.

“This requirement applies to the entire university, including UVa Health, which will notify its team members in a separate communication soon,” the email states.

The email was signed by UVa President Jim Ryan; Provost Liz Magill, Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis; and Dr. K. Craig Kent, executive vice president for health affairs.

Students must provide proof of an approved booster shot to the HealthyHoos application no later than Feb. 1. Those who are not yet eligible for a booster must show proof of their added shot 30 days after they become eligible.

The same deadlines apply to staff and faculty.

UVa Student Affairs will provide students and parents with additional information about the mandate after the holidays.

“With the holiday break on the way, we are optimistic that the Feb. 1 deadline will give members of our community adequate time to schedule and receive their booster shots and to upload the required document,” the administrators wrote. “We also strongly encourage all students and faculty who will participate in 2022 January term courses to get a booster vaccine before courses begin on Jan. 3.”

Students, staff and faculty who have medical or religious exemptions from the vaccine requirement will remain exempt from the booster requirement. They must continue to comply with testing requirements and other public health policies.

The administrators said the booster requirement is based on several developments involving COVID-19, including a recent surge in delta variant cases and the arrival of the even more contagious omicron variant.

“It is clear that the COVID-19 vaccines become less effective at preventing infections over time. In addition, we are concerned about the rise in cases in Virginia and around the globe, as well as the early indications that the new omicron variant is significantly more contagious than previous variants of the virus,” the four administrators wrote

“Higher prevalence of the virus, combined with a more contagious strain and reduced vaccine efficacy, is a troubling situation that could lead to a spike in cases and a strain on our health care resources,” they wrote. “Aside from getting vaccinated for the first time, getting a booster shot is the most effective tool available to limit the spread of the virus and keep the people around you safe.”

There could be more COVID-connected public health requirements implemented before spring semester, officials said. Those would be announced before Jan. 14, the final day of January term classes.

Spring classes are slated to start Jan. 19

“Over the coming weeks, university leaders and public health experts will be monitoring the conditions of the pandemic in order to determine whether additional changes to our public health measures are necessary to keep people safe and keep our semester on track,” they wrote.

Earlier this month, UVa announced that it would continue to mandate employee vaccinations as a requirement to be employed. The announcement came after a federal court approved an injunction against the federal vaccine mandate upon which UVa’s requirement is based.

That injunction was overturned on Dec. 17 by a federal appeals court.

UVa is continuing to require face masks for all people on Grounds, whether vaccinated or not. The mandate includes university-owned or leased public spaces but excludes dorms and private housing and those who work alone in an office.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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