The University is preparing to host six clinics with bivalent COVID-19 boosters and flu vaccines on campus over the course of this month, according to Vanessa Britto MSc’96, associate vice president for health and wellness.
The clinics will be held in the Multipurpose Room at the Health and Wellness Center, and students will receive more information in the coming days, according to Britto.
The bivalent COVID-19 shots target two different strains of COVID-19: SARS-CoV-2, which circulated in the early months of the pandemic, and the Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5.
The Rhode Island Department of Public Health recently notified the University that bivalent booster “supplies have increased and that vaccines could be made available” to host clinics on campus, Britto wrote in an email to The Herald. Both the bivalent COVID-19 boosters and the flu vaccines “will be available at no cost to students.”
RIDOH “strongly” recommends individuals be vaccinated for COVID-19 in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and recommendations, said Philip Chan, consultant medical director at RIDOH and associate professor of medicine and behavioral and social sciences.
The CDC recommends that individuals ages 12 and older get the booster if it has been at least two months since their last vaccine dose, which may be a final primary series dose or an original monovalent booster. Individuals who recently had COVID-19 should wait three months before getting the booster.
The University does not currently require the bivalent booster. “We do, however, strongly recommend it, and recommend students get the flu vaccine,” Britto wrote. “This is a very big reason why we are making them available to students on campus.”
Even as COVID-19 becomes more endemic with increased levels of population immunity, “it is really, really important still that people do get vaccinated,” Chan said. “The vaccine continues to be one of the most effective things we can do in preventing severe disease.”
Carla Humphris ’24 walked to CVS at the Providence Place Mall to get her booster after making an appointment online.
“It’s far more convenient for me to go for an afternoon to get a booster than it is to have a week of school where I feel sick … or stressed about infecting other people,” Humphris said.
“It’s interesting how no one is getting the booster because Brown isn’t asking for it,” she added. “I’ve mentioned getting boosted to my friends and their first reaction is, ‘Oh, Brown doesn’t require it, right?’ And that’s the end of the conversation.”
Humphris said she would have appreciated more encouragement from the University for students to get vaccinated because “so many students don’t even know that they’re eligible for it already.”
While “we continue to see a low community level of COVID-19 across all counties here in the state, … we are still seeing some transmission,” Chan said.
Chan emphasized the necessity of continuing to adhere to safe COVID-19 practices such as isolating and testing while symptomatic and “staying on top of the latest data.”