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Flu season coincides with COVID-19 booster clinic

On Dec. 3, the College hosted a flu and COVID-19 booster vaccine clinic for students and staff. Initially offering 100 vaccinations, they expanded supply due to high demand the week after Thanksgiving break.

Many students returned to campus expecting to feel rejuvenated and prepared for the final weeks of classes. For many, however, their relaxation was short-lived, as the cold and flu began spreading throughout the College.

Catching a common cold or mild case of the flu is a common experience in college, but contracting COVID-19 risks magnifying these effects. With exams and final projects looming, students feel extra pressure to stay on top of their assignments and have begun taking additional measures to avoid compromising their health.

The College’s Health Center requires students to make an appointment in order to receive care. This made it difficult for some students to get their illnesses diagnosed this flu season.

Because of this, some students were forced to go to Waterville urgent care clinics to get their flu-like symptoms diagnosed.

Fearing the added dangers of COVID-19 amid the spread of the new omicron variant, students have begun the process of receiving their COVID-19 booster shots.

“I think that people are really worried that if they get a cold and then COVID on top of it, it would be a lot worse and detrimental to their health,” Sofia Solari `23 said. “I’ve definitely noticed that a lot more kids have gotten it in the past few weeks.”

Since its release, medical officials have encouraged the public to receive the booster shot to improve the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Recently, the College’s COVID-19 response team began encouraging students to get a booster vaccination.

“I got the booster shot because I think it is important to be the most protected that we can against COVID-19,” Lily Davy `24 said. “I saw people getting COVID while being double vaccinated, [and] I thought it was important to have more protection than just that.”

Studies have shown that even two-dose vaccines lose effectiveness over time. The Delta and Omicron variants have a much higher infection rate than the novel coronavirus amongst those who are vaccinated. The booster shot can not only improve the body’s ability to defend itself against the virus but also offer better protection against existing variants.

Lydia Burke `24 noted that the increased interest in the booster shot is a product of both the situation on campus and national concern about variants.

“I think it’s a consequence of both students getting sick as well as the national climate surrounding COVID,”  she said. “I think that it is important [to get the booster] so that the new variant does not spread as easily.”

As the year continues, the College hopes the majority of students will take advantage of the booster’s availability. The administration believes it will play a vital role in controlling outbreaks on campus, relaxing COVID-19 protocols, and keeping the entire community safe.

~ Maura Thompson `24

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