PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As the omicron variant causes a rise in coronavirus cases, officials from Oregon State University announced Tuesday the school will be joining the growing list of universities and colleges where students, staff and faculty will be required to get a COVID-19 booster shot.
As of last week, more than 30 colleges have issued booster shot requirements. The list includes large universities like Boston University, NYU, the University of Chicago, Michigan State University, the University of Oregon, California State University and the University of California.
“In the days ahead, we will provide you more information about this booster requirement, including means and dates of when compliance will be required as you become eligible for a booster,” read Tuesday’s message from Oregon State University Interim President Rebecca Johnson and Provost and Executive Vice President Edward Feser.
Officials say in-person instruction and all other university activities and operations are still scheduled to resume on-site on Jan. 3. However students returning to residence halls will be required to be tested for COVID-19.
“We make this decision while monitoring increased COVID-19 cases across the nation due to the Omicron variant,” Johnson and Feser said.
Similarly, officials from the University of Oregon have set a booster requirement. On Tuesday, school officials announced the deadline that students, staff and faculty at the university must receive a COVID-19 booster shot is Jan. 31 or 30 days after they become eligible. Both medical and non-medical exemptions, consistent with state law, are recognized by the school, officials say.
“We recognize that news about the Omicron variant continues to create uncertainty and concern,” read a message from the University of Oregon’s Provost and Senior Vice President Patrick Phillips. “We are also aware that universities across the country are taking different approaches to the start of the winter term.”
Individuals who are 16 or older are eligible for a booster shot six months after the second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months after a Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
Currently more than 90% of students and employees at both Oregon State University and the University of Oregon are vaccinated, officials say.
Earlier this month, Gov. Kate Brown and state health officials urged Oregonians to get booster shots immediately. Local scientists predict that in January the state will see a new wave of hospitalizations that could surpass the peak since the start of the pandemic.
Currently 74% of people in Oregon who are 18 or older are fully vaccinated, based on data from the state health authority. In addition, nearly one-third of Oregon’s adult population have received a booster shot.