Important Drexel Health and Well-being Update
The following message, providing important updates to information related to campus health and well-being, was sent to the Drexel community:
- The FDA has authorized new COVID-19 booster shots that are more effective against currently circulating COVID variants. Most vaccinated adults qualify to receive these booster shots including all students.
- Drexel will hold COVID bivalent booster and flu vaccine clinics for students on Oct 12-13 and an additional bivalent booster clinic for employees on October 19.
- Remember to follow Drexel’s COVID-19 guidelines, from masking to event planning. Find the latest guidelines at Drexel.edu/coronavirus.
- When you protect yourself, you are also protecting family, friends and community.
Dear Drexel Students and Colleagues,
Welcome to the new academic year! It’s wonderful to see students, faculty and professional staff around campus. For many, this is a time to navigate a transition from virtual gatherings to in-person events. Although the COVID pandemic remains, we begin the year with less restrictions, due mainly to a highly vaccinated campus community, more data-driven decision-making and improved understanding of the role high filtration masks and good ventilation play in our ability to stay healthy. This message contains important information about health and well-being at Drexel, including the most recent updates on COVID-19 booster vaccination, reminders about campus COVID protocols and the latest on the approaching flu season.
New COVID-19 booster vaccines
It’s time to update your COVID-19 booster. CDC Guidance recommends that patients 12 and older who received the primary series of any of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines should receive a booster dose of the revised mRNA bivalent COVID-19 vaccine. Note that this is the only COVID booster vaccine available now in the United States. The CDC definition of “up to date” with COVID-19 vaccine is someone who has completed their primary vaccine series and received the most recent COVID-19 booster vaccine recommended for them by the CDC. While many young adults have experienced COVID infection over the past year, data consistently shows that being up to date with COVID vaccination including boosters is more protective against infection and poor disease outcomes than natural infection. Further, by staying up to date with COVID vaccination, you not only protect yourself, but you also protect your family, your friends, and the larger community.
To keep up with the evolving coronavirus, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have revised the formulas for their booster vaccines. These new “bivalent” boosters enhance the immune system response against both the original coronavirus strain and the newer omicron strains, and they are becoming available to vaccinated adults nationwide – including here at Drexel.
Who is eligible for the new boosters?
Everyone 12 and up who is vaccinated against COVID-19 is eligible for a reformulated booster shot (the Moderna booster is authorized for those 18 and up). You are eligible two months after your most recent primary or booster vaccination, regardless of which vaccine/boosters you have previously received. These new shots are boosters – meant to improve or maintain immune protection over time for those already vaccinated or even infected. If you haven’t yet received a COVID-19 primary vaccine (Drexel requires community members to be vaccinated, with limited exceptions), you must receive the primary series before you are eligible for the new booster vaccine. If you have recently been vaccinated or ill with COVID, you may wait several weeks or sometimes longer before choosing to schedule your bivalent booster. More information about the new booster timing is available on the CDC website or by speaking with your health care provider.
Get boosted through Drexel
Drexel will provide the bivalent booster vaccine to students, faculty, and professional staff free of charge. Drexel will hold student vaccine clinics next month on October 12–13. More information will be provided directly to students concerning these clinics. An employee booster clinic will be held with Sunray Pharmacy on October 19 at the Learning Terrace of the Race Street Residences. Employees can schedule their COVID bivalent booster appointment here.
Find a booster elsewhere
As the new booster doses roll out across the United States, more local pharmacies have time slots available for individuals to receive the bivalent COVID booster. For other locations that have the new booster vaccination, you can visit www.vaccines.gov/ to find a pharmacy location near you.
Be familiar with the latest Drexel COVID guidance
In addition to getting your booster, please continue to follow Drexel’s COVID-19 guidelines concerning what to do when you feel ill, have a positive test or are exposed to COVID-19. PCR testing is available on campus. Rapid home tests are still covered by most insurance and available at most major pharmacies.
This year, students who live in university housing and become infected with COVID-19 will be able to observe their 5-day isolation period in their place of residence and receive full information at the time of isolation. Roommates are asked to discuss their plans in advance, should this situation arise. More detailed information concerning Drexel’s isolation-in-place protocols including any exceptions can be found on our Response to Coronavirus website, under what to do if you feel ill.
Face masks are required in all health care spaces and for students on health care rotations. Masking is also required for 5 full days following a 5-day isolation period for anyone with COVID infection. If you do not feel well but test negative for COVID, please consider masking until you feel better. Drexel recommends indoor masking when around others during increased periods of viral transmission. Signage is posted on building entrances as appropriate. Anyone can choose to mask at any time to add an extra layer of protection against airborne viruses. While pandemic conditions have markedly improved, please be aware that COVID-19 has changed the lives of some people in our community who now must always mask for health reasons. Plan events with everyone in mind by using well ventilated spaces and creating ways all can participate.
We get a glimpse of the possible severity of an approaching flu season by looking at the experience of countries in the Southern Hemisphere that are going through their winter season. Available information points to a robust flu season in our region this coming winter. Flu vaccine will be available through Student Health. As noted earlier, special student vaccine clinics offering both the new COVID booster and flu vaccine will be held on campus on October 12-13. Employees are strongly encouraged to seek flu vaccine at area pharmacies or at their primary care providers offices.
Mental Health Resources
We continue to move through a remarkable, often challenging time in history. If you need mental health support during this time that may feel full of uncertainty, our University offers numerous resources. To schedule an appointment with a counselor, students can call 215.895.1415 or simply email firstname.lastname@example.org. Faculty, staff and graduate students can connect with a live SupportLinc representative by calling 1.888.881.5462 for support.
We all share the responsibility of keeping ourselves protected and protecting others. COVID underscores how our choices can affect others.
A vibrant community takes care of each other and addresses multiple aspects of health and well-being. Although many pandemic-related decisions are now left up to individuals, we still function overall as a community, often depending on each other for protection from infection. We all look forward to more time together, a rewarding academic year and a continued return to the wonderful community that comprises Drexel. Dragons thrive!
Marla J. Gold, MD
Chief Wellness Officer
Senior Vice Provost for Community Health