CUNY mandate for booster shots is fair and needed


Marco Verch Professional Photographer | Flickr

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

A new COVID-19 booster shot mandate for all CUNY and SUNY students was announced by New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul on Dec. 31, though it should have been announced in early December once the third shot was readily available to students. Not only is this shot necessary, it is a completely fair mandate.

Right now, new COVID-19 cases and hospitalization numbers are soaring thanks to the omicron variant.

It has been thoroughly reported and documented that two shots of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not strong enough to fight against the omicron variant. These vaccines were made to only fight against the delta variant and previous strains.

“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said. “Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

One study even found that the third shot “reduced risk of symptomatic COVID-19 relative to unvaccinated people” by 63% and “reduced risk of hospitalization for symptomatic patients relative to unvaccinated people” by 68%.

Thus, it’s necessary to get the booster shot to avoid contracting COVID-19 in any form, but especially through the highly contagious omicron variant.

The booster shot has been available for months now, so there is no reason for Hochul or CUNY Central to wait this long to create a mandate.

Over the summer of 2021, when the original full vaccination mandate was put in place by the university, most students had either already gotten at least one of their shots. If not, they got them right away to avoid complications with the school.

If a student heard about the original vaccination mandate and got their second dose by Aug. 15, 2021, that would mean that they’d be eligible for a third dose six months later, around Feb. 15.

Since the spring 2022 semester begins on Jan. 28 for CUNY, that’s about two or three weeks before that student is ready to get their booster shot. Any student who got their second dose earlier than Aug. 15, 2021, would be eligible for their booster even sooner than that.

This shows that students have been becoming eligible for the booster shot for weeks or even months. Why didn’t the state make the mandate sooner, so that as soon as students started to reach their six months, they would have been obligated to get the shot?

Not only should the mandate have been announced sooner than it was, it also should have been put in place by CUNY — not the governor.

While it’s great that Hochul took this initiative, it’s disappointing that CUNY and Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez didn’t step up and do it themselves.

Whether it was out of fear of ridicule by opposing students and families, or it was just lack of foresight, it’s sad to see that CUNY didn’t take it upon itself to do the right thing and institute this mandate.

The more people who are vaccinated in this city, the safer everyone will be. Hopefully, people take this booster mandate seriously and get their shots right away.