Updated COVID booster soon available at NYU, but not yet required

While NYU is preparing to offer the new COVID-19 booster shot soon, it has not yet decided whether to require the shot for students, faculty or staff.

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Manasa Gudavalli

The newly authorized COVID-19 boosters targeted at the omicron variant are available to those 12 years and older. (Illustration by Manasa Gudavalli)

Starting this week, all members of the NYU community are eligible for an updated booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. The new boosters from Moderna and Pfizer, which were approved on Aug. 31, are designed to protect against the omicron variant of the coronavirus and are now available to anyone aged 12 or older.

Although NYU has not yet determined whether it will make the new booster shot mandatory, it will soon be available at the Student Health Center. According to spokesperson John Beckman, the university has placed an order and will update students when appointments become available. In the meantime, shots are available for free at pharmacies and healthcare providers across New York City.

No decision has been made on whether the university will require the bivalent booster vaccine,” Beckman said. “If NYU’s vaccination policy changes, we will review and communicate the implications for building access.”

Once available on campus, the new booster will be administered at the Student Health Center at 726 Broadway, and all students, staff and faculty will be able to reserve an appointment at no cost. NYU required that community members receive the COVID-19 vaccine before the fall 2021 semester and mandated the first booster in December of that year amid a spike in cases. Since mid-July, New York City COVID-19 positivity rates have declined, falling as low as 8.9% during the second week of September.

With the start of classes and the end of New York’s public transportation mask mandate on Sept. 7, students said they view the booster as a way to stay safe while restrictions are eased. NYU plans to drop its classroom mask mandate at the end of September if  COVID-19 rates remain low. Given the latest city and university policies, Gallatin first-year Imaan Jummani said she thinks that members of the NYU community should get the new booster.

“There’s always debate and there’s always pushback from certain communities, and I completely understand that,” she said. “But in the long run, it’s just better to protect everybody.” 

However, other members of the NYU community are not certain they want to receive the vaccine. CAS first-year Steven Ciervo said that while he thinks everyone should receive the initial doses of the vaccine regardless of age or risk level, not everyone should be required to receive additional doses.

“If the science says that the booster is necessary, or that it can save significant amounts of lives, I think NYU will implement it,” Ciervo said. “I do disagree with the requirement, since I do not personally see it as necessary to our age group at the moment — I want to emphasize, at the moment.”

Unlike previously available doses, the new boosters are bivalent, meaning there are two different strains of the virus in the vaccine. Anyone 12 or older is approved for the Pfizer booster shot, while those 18 or older can receive either Pfizer or Moderna shots.

CAS junior Ani Amidon said she is optimistic about the new booster and hopes it will reduce the risk of hospitalization or serious illness resulting from the virus. She said that given an increase in prevalence of long-term COVID-19 side effects, more protection against the virus is better, even if the vaccine is fairly new.

“It’s largely a positive thing, as someone who recently had the new variant of COVID-19,” Amidon said. “It really was so painful, so another layer of protection around it just doesn’t hurt.”

Contact Allison Chow and Griffin Eckstein at [email protected]