By: Matthew Yankowski, Contributing Writer
As the updated Bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine continues to roll out nationwide, Towson University students are divided on whether or not to get it and if the University should require it.
TU began vaccine clinics in West Village Garage on Sept. 9. The updated booster dose contains an additional strain of the coronavirus aimed to provide more robust protection against the Omicron variant, the FDA said in a press release.
Those interested in receiving the updated booster can do so two months after their first booster shot.
Despite previous mandates, the University no longer requires students, faculty or staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“While vaccination is no longer mandatory, all TU students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19,” the University’s website states.
In a September interview with The Towerlight, President Kim Schatzel said the decision to end the vaccine mandate stemmed from the pandemic moving into an endemic state.
“We’ve moved to an endemic stage now, and when you move to endemic stage, it’s really a personal responsibility versus a mandate,” Schatzel said.
However, the consensus among students on whether or not they plan to get the updated booster has varied.
Senior Jess Nealon said she’s excited to get the newest vaccine.
“I don’t want to get COVID, and if I do get COVID, I don’t want to spread it,” Nealon said.
Similarly, Junior Hailey Walden said she plans to get the updated booster since she feels the pandemic is still an ongoing concern.
“I do believe that it’s dying down, but I think we should all still do what we can to make sure that everyone around us is safe and do what we can to protect others,” Walden said.
Alternatively, John Lee said he doesn’t know enough about the new booster to decide whether or not to get it. He said he would need to do his more research before deciding.
While she plans to get the new booster, Junior Tiffany Wilkins said she agrees with the decision not to require it.
“The first full vaccination definitely should be required,” Wilkins, who plans to get the new shot, said. “For the [Bivalent], I think it may be a bit of a force or push for other people.”
Walden said she thinks the University should mandate the new booster shot. She said there are still high-risk individuals that could benefit from a mandate.
“I think it’s good to keep everyone around safe and do everything that we can to do that,” Walden said.
Maryland has a positivity rate of 8.12%, and over 4.7 million Marylanders are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s COVID dashboard.
The West Village Testing Center will be hosting vaccine clinics every Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. until Nov. 11 on the first floor of the West Village Garage.