Wayne State will require all students, faculty and staff to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine once eligible beginning Jan. 3, 2022, according to a Campus Health Committee email to the campus community on Friday. 

College of Nursing Dean Laurie Lauzon Clabo said the rapidly spreading omicron variant was a motivating factor in the decision to enforce booster shots.

“The variant (omicron) has been identified in Michigan, and case numbers across the state and region continue to climb,” Clabo said. “After a brief decrease, positivity rates in Detroit have begun to climb again.”

There were 62 cases, including 35 confirmed and 27 presumptive, on campus for the week ending on Dec. 11, according to the Campus COVID-19 Dashboard. The testing positivity rate was 7.8%, a 3.37% decrease from the week ending on Dec. 4. 

While cases have declined on campus over the past week, Clabo said she is expecting a potential increase over the holiday break. 

“These increases may make it necessary to transition all classes to a remote format for a limited time period at the beginning of the winter semester,” she said.

Clabo said an announcement on a potential transition to virtual learning would be made by Thursday.

“If we must make this transition, it will be temporary, and classes will move to their originally planned delivery method when this period is over,” she said. “If we need to move to this step, further information regarding housing, libraries and other campus services will be provided to keep students informed of next steps.”

Clabo said that while the omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, data shows that booster vaccines are effective against it.

The original three COVID-19 vaccines appear to be less protective against omicron, while booster doses are likely to restore that protection, according to a recent study.

“The researchers found ‘low to absent’ antibody neutralization of the variant from the regular regimens of all three vaccines — two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines or one of J&J's single-dose vaccine,” Reuters reported. “But the blood from recent recipients of an additional booster dose exhibited potent neutralization of the variant, the study found.”

Clabo said the mandate will take effect for the winter 2022 semester.

“The booster requirement will apply to every member of the Wayne State community, except for those with approved exemptions and students who will learn 100% remotely with no need to be on campus or access campus resources,” she said. 

Individuals are eligible for a booster shots six months past their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months past their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Please get your booster as soon as it’s available to you and upload photographic proof (through the Campus Health Center),” Clabo said.

Clabo said that the WSU community has demonstrated a commitment to protecting public health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have proven that, as a campus community, we can weather this together,” she said. “Our students, faculty and staff have shown incredible cooperation in getting vaccinated and following safety measures, and we have been able to continue the mission of our university while protecting our Warriors.” 

The Campus Health Center is hosting booster clinics on Monday and Tuesday from 9:20 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. for the Modern and Johnson & Johnson booster vaccines. 

Appointments can also be made by calling the Campus Health Center at 313-577-5105 or 313-577-5041.

Amelia Benavides-Colón is the news editor for The South End. She can be reached at hd4634@wayne.edu

Cover photo by Quinn Banks, The South End's multimedia editor. He can be reached at multimediaeditortse@gmail.com.