Loyola will require all students, faculty and staff to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible, according to an email sent to the Loyola community Dec. 15.
The announcement comes as many students prepare to head home, either out of state or out of the city, when winter break begins Dec. 19.
People become eligible for a booster six months after receiving their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or at least two months after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.
“Loyola’s vaccination and booster requirement is informed by our Jesuit, Catholic commitment to the common good, solidarity, and justice,” Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney and Provost Margaret Faut Callahan wrote in the email. “Given the serious nature of the pandemic and the safety, efficacy, and availability of the COVID-19 vaccines, we are rightly called to make reasonable efforts to protect one another through vaccination and boosters.
The university encourages community members to receive their booster over the holiday break, according to an email from Loyola spokesperson Anna Rozenich. However, it’s unclear if there is a specific deadline for vaccinations.
Timing for when people are eligible for the booster shot varies, Rozenich said. The university expects students, faculty and staff to upload their booster shots when they’re eligible. It’s not clear what consequences, if any, students will face if they don’t get a booster.
Students, faculty and staff who received a medical or religious exemption from the original COVID-19 vaccine requirement won’t have to upload a booster, the email said. They will have to continue to comply with surveillance testing.
Following the announcement of the original vaccine mandate, Loyola reversed its decision on more than 40 students’ vaccine exemptions following legal threats. The students, who were previously denied exemptions, used the services of Liberty Counsel — a Christian non-profit organization — to threaten the university with legal action. The university eventually allowed the students the exemptions, The Phoenix reported.
Calls for booster shots have become more popular over the last few weeks after the discovery of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, The Phoenix reported. In a Nov. 23 email the university “encouraged” it’s community members to get the booster, before turning it into a requirement.
Loyola seems to be setting the precedent for other Chicago universities, who haven’t yet required the booster shot. Depaul University, Columbia College Chicago and Northwestern University all encourage the booster, but don’t have a requirement, according to their websites.