Burlington, VT — A surge in COVID cases and the presence of the omicron variant is prompting the University of Vermont to require students to get booster shots no later than February 1, 2022.

“We have watched the Omicron variant take hold rapidly in the U.S.,” said Gary Derr, Vice President for Operations and Public Safety. “Medical experts in Vermont and elsewhere agree that the best way to keep our campus healthy is to maximize the protection of our students with boosters as quickly as we can.”

“Students have played their role in the effort to hinder the spread of COVID on campus,” said Dr. Michelle Paavola, medical director of UVM’s Center for Health and Wellbeing. The school saw 100 percent compliance with last summer’s vaccine mandate.

Derr said 95 percent of the students are already eligible for boosters. There are no vaccine clinics on campus but he is working to create a shuttle bus system that connects students to off-campus sites.

“We’re going to be doing a real concerted effort to follow up with them so that they know about it. So that they have information of where they can get the booster. So if they decide to wait to get the booster on campus, there’s sites here all around campus. But just to say, our records indicate you haven’t gotten it yet. Remember, February 1st is the deadline.”

For the time being, UVM will continue to provide in-person classes and the school is encouraging students to get tested 48 hours before traveling for winter break. Once they return, students will have to take a day zero PCR test on campus.

“We monitor infection rates of our campus community on a daily basis,” said Derr. “In the event that we see upticks in cases, we will take the necessary steps to protect everyone to the best of our ability. For now, our goal is to keep UVM healthy physically and mentally by practicing smart community behaviors like getting boosters, masking indoors, and testing frequently.” 

Those not eligible for the February 1 deadline will have up to 14 days from their date of eligibility to receive the booster. An exemption process is in place for students with medical or religious reasons and exempted students will be required to test regulary.