As of Oct. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots for those who have received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least six months prior, or a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine at least two months prior. Alongside anyone 65 years or older, those 18 or older who live in long-term care settings, who have underlying medical conditions or who work or live in high-risk settings are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster. Accordingly, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) provided a free booster clinic on Nov. 15 at Sudakoff Conference Center from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
While the CDC guidelines only includes education staff under its qualifiers for those who work or live in high-risk settings and not the greater student body, Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC) Representative and thesis student Alexandra Conte explained that anyone who received their previous vaccine at least six months ago was eligible for this clinic, thanks to Program Director of the CWC Dr. Anne Fisher.
“Dr. Fisher advocated for the FDOH to come to New College and vaccinate students because many students live in dorms or apartments and are in close contact with each other,” Conte explained.
167 doses of the booster were available at this clinic, with none leftover. 126 students received a booster, while the rest were distributed to faculty and staff. Students were given the option to request a specific booster, but both Conte and Health Education Coordinator Susan Stahley reiterated that vaccines can be mixed.
While this clinic was held primarily for the benefit of students, community members were also welcomed, and attendees were also given the option to receive their first dose of any of the three vaccines at the clinic if they had not already. In the meantime, Pfizer-BioNTech has requested that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) open up booster eligibility to anyone over 18, regardless of underlying medical conditions or if they live or work in high-risk settings. But until then, students that were unable to attend this clinic can still obtain a booster through University of South Florida (USF) Health, which carries both Pfizer and J&J boosters. Appointments can be requested here or by calling 941-487-4254. Conte also said that she plans to send out a survey to students to see if they would be interested in another on-campus clinic being held, potentially early in the spring semester.