Students at the 7Cs are now eligible to receive COVID-19 booster shots under California health guidelines. With growing global concern over the new Omicron variant, the 7Cs have recommended students get boosted as soon as possible.
The arrival of booster shots has been anticipated since the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines last spring. On Nov. 9, state public health director Dr. Tomás J. Aragón said in a statement that anyone over 18 can receive booster shots.
Those who originally received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine must wait at least six months after their initial dose to receive a booster. For those who took the J&J vaccine, the wait time is only two months.
“I strongly urge everyone who is eligible to get one now,” Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr said in a Dec. 1 email.
Starr directed students to the Los Angeles County Health Department website for more information.
Students looking to receive their booster shots can look to pharmacies in the local area. Appointments are recommended, but many local pharmacies also take walk-ins. Students can also use the state’s MyTurn portal to find and schedule an appointment nearby.
Hendricks Pharmacy, located in the Claremont Village, has been a favorite site for students to receive their vaccines. Only a five to 20 minute walk from the 5Cs, appointments for a booster shot can be made online.
Brian Garner, the owner of Hendricks and a pharmacist, told TSL it’s especially important for college students to receive their booster shot since they live in a high risk environment.
“For college students in particular, the more at risk you are of being in contact with others that have the virus, then the more important it is to keep your immunity up,” he said. “For those that are in close quarters with multiple people that also go out to other places, you want to make sure that you’re keeping your protection.”
Claremont Pharmacy, located about a mile south of Pomona’s campus, also offers booster shots. In Pomona, Express Pharmacy and Royal Pharmacy carry booster doses. In Montclair, students can visit the Medicine Shoppe and ABC Pharmacy, the latter of which also offers boosters at its Upland location.
Student Health Services Director Dr. Prateek Jindal echoed officials’ booster shot endorsement in a Nov. 22 statement.
“At this time, consistent with public health guidance, I would like to encourage all 7C students to seek booster doses against COVID-19 infection, if they haven’t received a booster already,” he said.
The arrival of booster shots is raising questions for those looking to receive them. For instance, is it okay to mix and match vaccine brands?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s okay to receive a booster shot different from the initial vaccine received. While the CDC has not put out official recommendations for which booster to get, it stresses that any booster builds back immunity and lowers the risk of infection. Therefore, people should get whatever booster is most readily available to them.
Nala Berry PZ ’24 chose to receive the Moderna booster shot at Hendricks Pharmacy right before Thanksgiving break. It was important to her that she receive the booster before Thanksgiving break, as she would be traveling and around family members, she said.
“I feel like if you can take the precautions needed to prevent getting COVID, that’s the best that we can do as college students. And it may seem like we’re invincible, or it may seem like we might not get it, but it still can happen,” Berry said. “And no one wants to be sick, especially on a college campus when so much of what you’re doing is independent and you don’t really have your family to support you.”
Garner said that since booster shots build up immunity lost over time in the human body, he expects additional boosters in the future.
“I would expect even additional boosters coming maybe 6-12 more months later. We don’t know, we have to wait for the research, but research is kind of ongoing. So it’ll be some time before we know exactly what the schedule is going to be,” he said.
On Dec. 1, the San Francisco Department of Health confirmed the first known case of the Omicron variant in the United States. Omicron is categorized as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization as of Nov. 26.
Although much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, such as whether it causes more severe illness or how it might impact response to treatment, the California Department of Public Health states that it has many mutations in important areas that impact infectiousness and the immune system’s ability to protect against infection.
“We don’t know everything we need to know yet about the Omicron variant. But we know that vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from severe illness and complications from all known SARS-CoV-2 variants to date,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said Nov. 30.
Los Angeles County and the city of LA recently updated their vaccine mandates, with enforcement beginning Nov. 29. Claremont is still lagging behind LA County vaccination rates. As of Nov. 25, 64.8 percent of Claremont residents over the age of five are fully vaccinated, compared to 67.2 percent countywide.
On Thursday, Keck Graduate Institute held a Pfizer COVID-19 booster clinic at Student Health Services, partnering with CVS. Appointments filled up within hours of the clinic’s announcement.