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BREAKING: AU announces booster shot requirement as Omicron variant spreads in region

Boosters are required by Feb. 10 regardless of on-campus presence

American University will require students, faculty and staff to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Feb. 10, President Sylvia Burwell announced on Wednesday. 

Booster doses will be required for all students, faculty and staff regardless of if they are on-campus, online or working in a hybrid approach. The news comes after the first cases of the Omicron variant were identified in the D.C. region on Sunday by the D.C. Department of Health. Maryland officials detected three cases in the state earlier this month, and Virginia reported its first case last week. 

“In preparation for the in-person spring semester, we continue to update our health and safety protocols based on the latest science and feedback from our community,” Burwell wrote in an email to the AU community. “This approach served us well throughout the fall, keeping our community safe by using the best tools at our disposal, including high vaccination rates, mask-wearing, and testing and contact tracing protocols.”

The University has been working with the Walgreens on New Mexico Avenue to help students get booster shots throughout the semester

“The data indicates that boosters provide enhanced protection that will be critical as we proceed through the winter months, and the updated CDC guidance recommends that all adults over 18 should get a booster,” Burwell wrote in a Dec. 8 email

Community members who originally received exemptions from the University’s initial vaccine requirement will also be exempt from the booster requirement and must continue adhering to the University’s required safety measures. 

“Additional data indicates that boosters provide helpful protection against the Omicron variant,” Burwell wrote Wednesday. “As the weather gets colder and people gather indoors, getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster can help protect you and those around you.”

Students can upload their proof of vaccination through the AU Student Health Center Portal, and faculty and staff can upload theirs to the AU Forward portal, the email said. 

On Dec. 13, George Washington University announced a similar booster requirement for students, faculty and staff by Feb. 1. 

In the last week of classes, the University reported 28 COVID-19 cases, the highest from the entire semester, as well as its first hospitalization. However, University officials confirmed to The Eagle that there are no known cases of the Omicron variant in the AU community. 

“We have seen an uptick in cases in the past two weeks in line with local and regional trends. There are currently no known cases of the Omicron variant in our community. We are planning an in-person spring semester that will follow our original calendar,” said Elizabeth Deal, the University’s assistant vice president for community and internal communication, in an email to The Eagle. 

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