Dear Brown Community Members,
A critical element of the Brown community’s success in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 has been the collective effort of students, faculty and staff to achieve universal vaccination levels. The overall low positivity rate on campus since we achieved 90% vaccination rates in early July, as well as the lack of severe illness or symptoms, hospitalization, or community spread are all testament to the effectiveness of vaccines as an essential public health measure. I am writing with additional and updated information regarding the importance now of getting a booster shot.
On Friday, Nov. 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that they have expanded the eligibility, effective immediately, for booster shots to all adults ages 18 years and older who completed their Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna two-dose vaccination at least six months ago. This follows a previous CDC announcement that all individuals who are 18 years and older and who received the Johnson & Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccine two or more months ago should also get a booster shot. Accordingly, the University highly recommends that all community members who are eligible get a booster shot as soon as possible. The following information, compiled with the assistance of Brown School of Public Health Dean Ashish Jha, is offered as guidance in this regard:
- The CDC has now authorized that all adults are eligible for a booster shot 6 months after their second Moderna/Pfizer shot or 2 months after their single-dose Johnson & Jonshon shot.
- Data show that boosters dramatically lower the risk of a breakthrough infection and even further reduce risk of severe disease.
- Boosters are a key measure to keep us safe as we head into winter and holiday season, when many of us will spend more time indoors and at larger gatherings and events with family and friends.
- Boosters are very safe — millions of third shots have been administered with no major adverse events reported. Boosters have the same or lesser side effects as second doses.
- The need for booster shots to shore up waning immunity to COVID-19 is not surprising — many vaccines require 3 or more doses to build sustainable immunity.
- Booster shots are valuable both in protecting individuals from infection and disease, and also protecting our communities from outbreaks.
- People can choose any of the authorized vaccines for their booster dose. They all provide a high level of protection, so whether you choose a different vaccine or stay with your original series does not matter substantially. The key is to get a booster.
Booster shots are widely available and remain free of charge. Students in particular may find it most convenient to get a booster over the Thanksgiving recess at home or wherever you may be. You can find available vaccines at vaccines.gov or vaccinateri.org. In Rhode Island and elsewhere, it is easy to schedule a vaccination appointment at many pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, Stop & Shop and Walmart.
Members of the community should consult their health care provider (University Health Services for students; personal health care provider for employees) or local pharmacist if you have questions about vaccines or boosters.
While we have not as of this time added boosters as a requirement to the University’s vaccination mandate, that decision could be made in the future, so community members should take care to obtain and keep an updated vaccination card that documents when you received your booster shot.
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy