Some 5Cs begin mandating booster shots in response to case surges

COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card is held.
Pitzer College was the first of the 5Cs to mandate booster shots for the spring semester. (Julian Chapin • The Student Life)

Pitzer College, Pomona College and Harvey Mudd College will require all students to get booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before returning for the spring semester, citing the rise of the omicron variant and case increases around the country as sources of concern. 

Pitzer students are required to get booster shots and update their vaccination status by Jan. 11, the school’s Vice President of Student Affairs Sandra Vasquez said in an email Friday. 

Pitzer students will also be expected to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of move-in, a requirement that will be shared so far by Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd College. 

In a recent change to CDC travel requirements, international travelers to the US will have to show a negative test no more than one day before travel, regardless of vaccination status. 

“Given the rapid COVID-19 surge we are seeing across the nation and at institutions of higher education, we must remain vigilant and take necessary steps to help proactively protect ourselves, each other, and our greater community,” Vasquez said. 

The Pomona president’s cabinet announced in an email Monday afternoon that all eligible students, faculty and staff will be required to get boosted by Tuesday, Jan. 18, with those not yet permitted required to receive the dose within seven days of when they become eligible.

For students who are unable to obtain booster shots before returning to campus, Student Health Services will host vaccination clinics during the first two weeks of classes.

After stating Dec. 10 that boosters were strongly recommended for “all members of our community,” the Harvey Mudd College president’s cabinet told community members Tuesday afternoon that students, faculty and staff need to receive booster shots by Jan. 11. 

Pitzer also announced plans to up its testing frequency to twice a week for the first two weeks of the spring semester. The college also recommended viral tests within 3 to 5 days of travel. 

Vasquez urged students staying in winter break housing provided by the college to enhance masking efforts, including in both indoor and outdoor spaces. 

The college also asked students to avoid travel to destinations where the CDC says non-essential travel is not recommended. 

Responding to the recent surge in cases and anticipation of the holiday season, California’s Department of Public Health announced a statewide mask mandate irrespective of vaccination status. The new requirements will apply to counties outside of Los Angeles County that previously did not require masks in indoor public places.

According to Claremont McKenna College administrators, L.A. County public health officials were “highly complimentary” of the 5Cs’ COVID-19 protocols in a meeting following last week’s surge in cases, expressing “confidence in our ability to mitigate further campus spread.”

This story was last updated Dec. 21 at 2:50 p.m.

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