As COVID-19 cases rise across the country, Chief Operating Officer Amy Sebring announced Dec. 31 that the College of William and Mary will require students, staff and faculty to receive a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for the Spring 2022 semester.
Students and employees currently eligible for a booster must upload their updated vaccine status to the College’s Kallaco portal by Jan. 18, or risk dis-enrollment or unpaid leave. The College has been using Kallaco, a third-party healthcare logistics company, to track testing and vaccination of students, faculty and staff since July 2020. For those who are not yet eligible for a booster, the College will require a booster within a month of eligibility. According to the Centers for Disease Control, individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine must wait two months after their first vaccination to receive a booster. For those who received Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines, the wait is six months.
Those who already have an approved exemption on file with the College are exempt from the booster requirement, though they must continue to be tested. Sebring also encouraged international students who may not be able to receive a booster in their home country to contact the Reves Center to apply for deferral.
While many universities across the country already required vaccination against COVID-19, a growing number are mandating boosters amid the surge in cases — including breakthrough infections — due to the Omicron variant of the virus, which is more contagious than previous variants. The College’s announcement follows that of several other Virginia universities that will also require boosters, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech.
Sebring also said the College would continue to follow CDC guidance on quarantine and isolation. The recommended period of isolation was recently reduced by the CDC to five days for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Students must still report any positive test results, and if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, Sebring said they can be tested at the Student Health Center.
Regardless of vaccination status, the College will continue to require masks indoors. Sebring emphasized the importance of vaccines, boosters, and new treatments in making this year’s surge different and more manageable than the last.
“As we approach 2022, I know this is not how any of us wanted to start the new year,” Sebring wrote. “With that said, COVID-19 remains a part of our lives. As we shift from a pandemic to an endemic state, we will need to retool in a way that allows us to live with the reality of the virus.”
At the end of last semester, outbreaks of Omicron at Cornell University and other campuses prompted many to push finals online and limit social gatherings. For the spring, even more institutions are beginning the semester virtually through the end of January. Sebring did not indicate whether the College would follow suit.