Marquette Community hopeful to Receive COVID-19 Booster Shot

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The City of Milwaukee is recommending booster shots to vaccinated individuals

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved the booster shot for all three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. The first booster shot that will be used is from the company Pfizer.

The Milwaukee Health Department is endorsing the booster vaccine and is currently distributing it at health clinics for those eligible.

The booster shot is the same dose as the previously given dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and is first being given to those who are at higher risk for hospitalization or death. This constitutes individuals 65 or older, or those working in long-term care facilities who are 18 or older.

The goal of the booster shot is to boost immunity that could have faded over time since the last vaccination, and will restore full protection against the virus. Pfizer and BioNTech, the companies behind the vaccine, said that in recent trials “the additional shot was 95.6% effective against the disease.” The booster shots from other companies have not been approved yet.

Marquette University took precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for the 2021-22 academic year. Before coming on campus, proof of vaccination was required for students. If a student was granted exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine, regular COVID-19 testing is required.

Students also have to show COVID-19 checks upon entry to some Marquette services such as dining halls and when using the LIMO service.

The Marquette University Medical Clinic has also been offering chances for students to get vaccinated. The Clinic itself hosts regular vaccination clinics, but also offers students chances to get vaccinated off-campus. The locations are the Wisconsin Center and nearby High Schools.

Keli Wollmer, the executive director for the Marquette University Medical Clinic, said she is hopeful for the booster shot on campus. Even though students currently do not have access to the shot, she looks forward to it hopefully decreasing the number of recorded COVID-19 cases on campus.

Data shows that within the past month as compared to September, cases have begun to decrease on campus both for students and for faculty. Within the week of October 14 to October 20, only eight cases of COVID-19 were recorded among students and faculty.

“Our focus remains on primary COVID vaccination series and annual flu shots,” Wollmer said. “Students have the ability to register and schedule an appointment for these vaccinations online.”

Wollmer said she believes that once students have access to these booster shots, they will be willing to get it.

“I believe, when eligible for boosters, most who are vaccinated would elect to receive a booster,” Wollmer said. Wollmer said her goal is for people at high risk to get the booster first and then hopes students will be able to due to its reported effectiveness.

Overall, Wollmer said she views the precautions Marquette has taken to be very effective in keeping students healthy.

“Marquette has an overall high vaccination rate of 93% of all students, faculty and staff.  The high vaccination rate, coupled with our indoor mask mandate and other mitigation strategies, has helped us to keep case numbers and transmission rates significantly lower than last academic year,” Wollmer said.

Anna Ring, a first-year in the College of Nursing, sees potential for the vaccine making students feel more comfortable.

“I think offering the vaccine on campus will make students feel more comfortable,” Ring said.

Dr. Robert Beatty, a 50-year neurosurgeon and former professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, does not think that getting the booster will necessarily hurt but doesn’t know how effective it will actually be.

“The virus is not as dangerous as the original one, so determining whether or not to get the booster is really up to the person who is getting it. Cases have been statistically going down. Older people over 65 probably should do it, but younger people most likely don’t need it as much,” Beatty said.

Beatty is eligible for the booster vaccination due to his age and said he does plan on getting it in the near future. As an older person, he said he believes he needs the booster just as a precaution.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision to get the vaccine, but as always, my wife has the final say. I will be getting the booster in a week, and I do hope it is effective,” Beatty said.

The Milwaukee Health Department lists locations and time slots on its website for people who are interested in both COVID-19 and booster vaccinations.

This story was written by Phoebe Goebel. She can be reached at phoebe.goebel@marquette.edu