In light of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approval of COVID-19 booster shots, boosters are now available on Duke’s campus for all students who received their last dose of the vaccine at least six months ago. Though not mandated by the University, they are strongly recommended.
Cameron Wolfe, associate professor of medicine and a co-leader of the COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Work Group at Duke, wrote in an email that the booster is “clearly MOST important for those vaccinated further back, as antibodies wane.”
“COVID risk is proportional to how often you get exposed, so dorm living, or healthcare workers for example, have always been priority targets for boosting,” Wolfe wrote.
Liza Goldstone, a first-year who chose to get the booster over Thanksgiving break, kept this in mind.
“Living in a congregate college setting, I decided that getting the booster would be a smart choice,” she said.
Data from clinical trials has indicated that a booster shot administered six months following the initial set of vaccines increases the immune response in human patients. As such, experts are acting with increasing urgency to spread information and access to the booster shot—as Wolfe put it, “to get the shields up as high as possible.”
At least 2,000 students have already received a booster shot. Appointments can be made using Duke’s student scheduling site, with vaccine locations at Blue Devil Tower, Duke University Hospital, and the Duke Clinic 1J (for walk-ins only). Booster shots are free and readily available.
“Getting an appointment could not be easier,” said sophomore Aaron Price, who received his booster recently. Price received the third dose at the walk-in clinic, which is open Monday through Friday. “It took all of, maybe, 25 minutes, the entire process. They couldn’t have been nicer.”
When asked about the potential for a booster mandate on campus, Wolfe wrote it was “too early to say.” Factors that could affect this decision include the evolving state of the virus, new research on the efficacy and long-term durability of the vaccine, and the spread of COVID-19 at Duke. However, his hope is that students and faculty listen to the recommendations of medical experts when making the choice of whether or not to get the third dose.
“You don't need a requirement if you suddenly find that the overwhelming majority of your student and faculty population are vaccinated of their own accord,” he wrote.
A Friday email to undergraduate students from the Office of Student Affairs stated that the University will “continue assessing case trends and activity when students return” from winter break in relation to a booster shot requirement.
Students who receive the booster outside of the University’s offerings can upload their information to Duke University Student Health Services.
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Sevana Wenn is a Trinity sophomore and features managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.