NORFOLK, Va. - The University of Virginia has announced students, faculty, and staff will be required to get a COVID-19 booster shot for the spring semester.
"It is clear that the COVID-19 vaccines become less effective at preventing infections over time. In addition, we are concerned about the rise in cases in Virginia and around the globe, as well as the early indications that the new omicron variant is significantly more contagious than previous variants of the virus," the university said on its website.
The requirement follows a growing number of universities and businesses that are now mandating booster shots.
For example, New York's Metropolitan Opera is now requiring performers, staff, and audience to show they've received a booster shot in order to go to a show.
News 3 checked in with several local universities. Here's what they said:
Old Dominion University
"Since the start of the academic school year, Old Dominion University has required students to be fully vaccinated or request an exemption for medical reasons or religious beliefs. Unvaccinated individuals with a medical or religious exemption are required to test 72 hours prior to start of their in-person classes and upload negative results to the Monarch Wellness Portal before returning to campus for the spring semester. All residential students with religious or medical exemptions must test prior to returning to campus and upload a negative test result by January 5, 2022. In addition, all new residential students with an approved religious or medical exemption will be tested prior to moving into the halls.
Vaccine boosters have been offered on campus since October but have not been required. We continue to monitor and follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia Department of Health."
William & Mary
"William & Mary’s Public Health Advisory Team has been encouraging community members to obtain COVID-19 vaccine boosters as soon as they are eligible, in order to best protect themselves and to offer the greatest chance of continuing uninterrupted teaching and learning. The team is monitoring closely the COVID-19 landscape as the university begins to break for the holiday season. Any operational decisions affecting the spring semester, which begins for undergraduates on January 26, will be announced after William & Mary reopens on January 3.”
Norfolk State University
"The university has required for all students to be tested upon their return to campus for the Spring 2022 semester. All students and faculty are required to be fully vaccinated unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption."
Christopher Newport University
"We're monitoring the CDC and VDH guidance and statistics, especially for the Newport News area. We're also aware of actions taken by other Virginia public universities. At this point, we have nothing to announce. The university's leadership is meeting over the holiday break and I'll be back in touch if there's news.
More than 95% of our students, faculty and staff are vaccinated and our most recent dashboard update indicates very few active cases," a spokesman said.
News 3 spoke with Dr. Parham Jaberi from the Virginia Department of Health about the science behind booster shots.
"We know that the longer the time, the lower the immunity," he said. "It's not an on-off switch. It's gradually decreasing protection over time."
The CDC still refers to someone as being fully vaccinated after they've had two shots of Moderna or Pfizer and after one shot of Johnson & Johnson.
Could that terminology change?
"We're going to have to wait and see what the CDC does. Does fully vaccinated now mean a booster? If this disease becomes endemic and it's in our society year after year, does fully vaccinated mean you got a shot this year? At this point, we're going to have to wait and see," Jaberi said.