Following the CDC’s approval for individuals who are at least 16 years old and received their last COVID-19 vaccine dose at least six months ago, Andover began offering Covid-19 booster shots to students. The first booster clinic took place before winter break, on December 15, 2021. In the second and third clinic held on January 5 and 9, for students who arrived later on campus due to quarantine, students in the age range of 12 to 17 were also offered the booster shot.
With 51.8 percent of the whole student body having received the booster shot, and the total positivity rate of 2.5 percent from the Covid-19 testing last Sunday, the school returned to in-person classes on Monday, January 10. Now having held 3 booster clinics on campus since December the school is planning to hold monthly clinics, with the next one occurring January 14.
According to Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students and Residential Life, the booster shot has played a big role in maintaining safety on campus and expediting the school’s decision in lifting some restrictions.
“The booster shot helps our community stay safer and gives us the confidence that if students contract this more contagious variant their symptoms will likely be milder, and allows us to lift more restrictions. As we have required vaccination to keep our community safe, receiving the booster will eventually be part of that requirement,” wrote Elliott in an email to The Phillipian.
Many students considered the booster clinics valuable resources presented for the community. Sebastian Lemberger ’25 expressed his gratitude towards the school’s efforts in holding them on campus.
Lemberger said, “I think it’s nice that the school took that into consideration to implement the clinic because students obviously can’t leave campus to go get booster shots at different booster clinics. So, it’s nice to see the school is prioritizing the health of the students that way.”
Similarly, Cio Hernandez ’23 appreciated the accessibility of booster shots on campus and believes it would be effective in keeping the number of Covid-19 cases on campus under control.
“I thought [receiving booster shots on campus] was really helpful. We’re lucky that we’re able to have it so accessible on campus, and I think it would be effective in stopping the spread [of Covid-19] and getting us back to normal as soon as we can. It will help numbers on campus to stop growing, and then we won’t really have as much of a Covid-19 scare when people do get it,” said Hernandez.
On January 5 when booster shot eligibility was expanded for 12 to 17-year-olds, CDC also stated on its website that Covid-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen protection against Omicron and other SARS-CoV-2 variants.
And according to an update from Pfizer and BioNTech, a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine increases the neutralizing antibody titers by 25-fold compared to two doses against the Omicron variant.
While the Andover community has returned to in-person classes this week, students, faculty, and staff are still following strict Covid-19 protocols as a total of 202 students tested positive for Covid-19 since the beginning of winter break on December 17. With a number of students now in isolation and quarantine, students expressed their concerns that with Omicron’s high transmission rate, booster shots aren’t enough to entirely protect students.
Sakina Cotton ’24 believes that with the booster shot being provided to students, the number of cases on campus will begin to drop, but that further measures will be required for campus to return safely to the Green Zone.
“I think that after the booster shots, we probably wouldn’t see as many cases as we would have without those shots. I think that there still might be a few cases, like the Orange Zone, just because [Omicron is] really contagious. Once we go to in-person classes, there’s just gonna be a lot of mixing, but we’ll probably stay in that zone for a little while and go to the Green Zone, probably by February,” said Cotton.
Jonathan Ji ’24, shared a similar stance as he is still trying to be cautious with self-protection and maintain the precaution in preventing worst-case scenarios for Covid-19.
Ji said, “I’m definitely still cautious because the booster shot doesn’t protect me 100 percent. So I’ve been told it’s more like a 60 percent protection, but it does make me feel safer though. I’m still aware of my mask-wearing and overall sanitation. I think [booster shots] will be effective in preventing the [contraction of Covid-19], but I’m not so sure about the spread because as we’ve currently seen, people with both shots and boosters can still transmit the virus. I think you will have fewer people feeling symptoms, but I don’t think it will necessarily stop the spread entirely.”