University Administers COVID-19 Booster Vaccines


Hunter Keller

BOOSTED: Student Health Services provides multiple COVID-19 booster clinics for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at Parker Commons.

Dr. Merrill Miller, director of Student Health Services and adjunct professor of the health sciences, released a statement to the Colgate community on Monday, Nov. 8 announcing the administration of booster COVID-19 vaccines on campus. The vaccine clinics are available for faculty, staff, students, campus partners and immediate family members above the age of 18, who received either the Modern or Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago or the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine more than two months ago.

Interested parties could book an appointment through online booking service FlexBooker, accessible via the Nov. 8 email sent by Dr. Miller. Those receiving the vaccine booster were instructed to print and bring a completed vaccine consent form and their original vaccine card if it had not been misplaced since their initial time of vaccination. Vaccinations were distributed inside Parker Commons, adjacent to the Class of 1965 Arena.

The Colgate community received an email on Oct. 28 from Dr. Miller and Dr. Ellen Larson asking students to fill out a survey gauging interest in COVID-19 booster vaccines. According to Miller, there was high interest in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but due to a lack of interest indicated in the survey, the university decided not to offer the Johnson and Johnson booster vaccine.

“There was a significant number of people who wanted to get the booster Pfizer shot, and an equal number who wanted to get the Moderna booster shot, but [far fewer] wanted to get the [Johnson & Johnson] booster,” Miller said.

Within ten minutes of the email release, there was already a waitlist of students seeking to get the Moderna or Pfizer booster shot for some time slots.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine boosters were distributed on Thursday, Nov. 11, and Friday, Nov. 12, and again on Thursday, Nov. 18 and Friday. Nov. 19. All time slots have waitlists as of Tuesday, Nov. 16.

“We administered over 300 shots during those first two days, and over 300 signed up for the next two clinic dates,” Miller said. “We decided to administer them on Thursday and Friday [so that] in case there were some side effects, they would have the weekend to recover.”

Junior Kelsey Beausoleil plans to receive the Pfizer booster vaccine on Friday, Nov. 19, noting that she is grateful the university is offering the vaccination to students before they return home for Thanksgiving break.

“I think we are very lucky that Colgate is able to offer us a vaccine booster clinic,” Beausoleil said. “I want to get mine before I go home because the holiday season is coming up and I want to be able to safely celebrate with my family members.”

Senior Evie Unger-Harquail also secured a time slot before break as a means of protecting at-risk family members from the virus. Unger-Harquail commented on the importance of getting the booster vaccine.

“It was super easy [to sign up]. I saw the email go out and immediately signed up and got a spot. It was a little difficult with the timing because I didn’t want to feel sick traveling home for break, but it is definitely worth it,” Unger-Harqual said. “One of my parents is immunocompromised, so the whole pandemic has been very scary for my family. Since I’m coming [from] a condensed place like college where germs can easily spread, it makes me feel like I’m doing my part to keep my family safe.”

For those unable to have gotten a COVID-19 booster appointment, the clinics will continue following Thanksgiving break, taking place between Saturday, Nov. 20 and Sunday, Nov. 28. Booster shots are also available at Kinney Drugs in Hamilton.

There are currently no reported cases of COVID-19 on Colgate’s campus. The university is not mandating the booster shot for anyone in the Colgate community, Miller said.

“We like to go by the CDC and New York State Department of Health guidelines when making our safety plan. Currently, neither organization has gone ahead and said the booster doses are required.  However, they certainly are strongly recommended to those with underlying health conditions, and by virtue of age and occupation,” Miller said.  

First-year student Dylan Vlasak encourages the community to get the vaccine, and he is glad the university is making efforts to keep everyone healthy.

“I think Colgate distributing the vaccine booster is a great way to preserve immunity and protection for everyone on campus,” Vlasak said. “If you can get it, do it on behalf of everyone.”