A view of the Davidson CVS's brick exterior from main street
CVS on S. Main St. offers Pfizer booster shots for all eligible students. Photo by Bailey Maierson ‘25.

Anika Banerjee ’24 (She/Her), Staff Writer

Anna Newman ’25 (She/Her), Staff Writer

As Davidson approaches Thanksgiving and eventually winter break, the college must prepare against COVID-19 and the variants that could be brought to campus from student and faculty travel. With the campus vaccination rate for students at 99%, and faculty at 98.5% according to the COVID Response Team, the way to maintain campus safety will be through booster shots. 

“As you know, booster shots are available, and federal health officials have emphasized that immunity from your original vaccination diminishes over time and that booster shots are important for continued protection against the virus. We encourage all of you to get a booster shot,” stated the COVID Response Team. As with any endemic virus, such as the flu, measles, or mumps, booster shots help contain the spread of the virus, which is Davidson’s goal.

Dr. Robert Lutz, the medical and sports physician at Davidson, explained that federal health officials have data to show that the strength of the vaccine wears down over time, and that is why booster shots are a necessity. “With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, this is a great time to get a booster,” said Dr. Lutz. “Getting a booster dose makes travelling to see friends and family over the holidays safer for you and older or at-risk family members and sets us up for a successful return to campus in January.”

To be eligible for the booster, students must be eighteen years or older. Those who initially received the Pfizer or Modern vaccine are eligible for a booster six months after their second shot. For those who received Johnson & Johnson, the booster is recommended two months post the initial shot. 

While some of the apprehension towards the vaccine comes from the potential side effects that it could cause, Dr. Lutz stated, “The booster’s [side effects] are very similar to the symptoms some people experienced after the initial set—possibly even milder. The most commonly reported side effects include fatigue, injection site pain and headaches.”

Research has shown that booster shots train your body to recognize the virus and defend itself. As Davidson is a small community, receiving the booster can help provide the population with herd immunity. Also, the benefits of getting the booster shot are not just limited to the Davidson College community, but extend to the surrounding town. 

Keeping the campus safe is critical to the Davidson community, and for those reasons, Dr. Lutz said, “We ask that students, staff and faculty keep up the preventive measures that are helping keep us safe even when they are off campus for the upcoming break. As with all things, we are prepared to adjust as circumstances change.” 

On campus, students have curbed the spread of the virus by wearing masks indoors, getting vaccinated, and abiding by campus guidelines; however, this does not remove the threat of the virus. Biology professor Dr. Dave Wessner stressed the importance of continuing to take measures to avoid a spike in cases while enjoying time with family. “Even the original version of the virus had a high rate of transmission. The variants that we’ve seen, like the Delta, have a really high rate of transmission, which is much greater than we see typically with influenza. The severity of the disease is much greater than we typically see with influenza,” said Dr. Wessner. 

The data has shown that COVID-19 spreads fastest in areas with low ventilation and high concentrations of people, so Dr. Wessner suggests that “if you have members of your family who are not vaccinated for whatever reason, you might want to consider wearing masks indoors” to keep everyone safe. As an added precaution, families could consider “opening windows [which] will give you better airflow and reduce the risk [of transmission].” 

Available at CVS on Main Street, the COVID-19 booster will help to maintain strong protection against the virus as immunity wanes from the initial doses earlier this year.

As the weather cools off and students spend more time indoors with other people, viral transmission increases, making it more important for students to get the booster if they have not already. “I think getting the boosters now, before the really cold weather comes, and before you’re doing more traveling for the holidays can be really, really useful,” said Dr. Wessner. 

In the United States, the vaccine is easily accessible; however, “worldwide, we see a much different situation regarding resources in poor countries. The availability of vaccines is dramatically different,” stated Dr. Wessner, demonstrating the disparities in global health. Additionally, as international travel resumes, the booster shot is an easy way to mitigate the global health hardships brought on by the pandemic.