These Are the Colleges Requiring Vaccine Boosters Now

Schools are following the science showing that booster shots increase antibodies that fight the omicron variant of COVID-19, which has led to a wave of vaccine booster requirements.

December 15, 2021 · Updated on May 11, 2022

These Are the Colleges Requiring Vaccine Boosters Now
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  • More than 1,000 colleges require their students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • An increasing number of colleges are also adding booster requirements.
  • These moves follow scientific research showing boosters provide significant protection against the omicron variant.

As the delta variant of COVID-19 surges and the omicron variant spreads, colleges are instituting vaccine booster shot requirements in attempts to keep their campuses open and safe in 2022.

More than 1,000 colleges already require their students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Now, a growing number of those institutions are following the emerging science and pivoting to also require COVID-19 vaccine boosters for students, faculty, and staff.

true Colleges Requiring COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

Last Updated: April 28, 2022

Studies show that the immunity provided by COVID-19 vaccines wanes after around six months, but that booster shots increase protective antibodies to fight a potential infection. In the months since the COVID-19 omicron strain was detected and designated a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization, new research shows that vaccine booster shots are even more essential to protecting against infection.

The latest news related to this topic is out of Israel, where researchers reported that a three-shot course of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine provided significant protection against the new omicron variant. Last week, BioNTech and Pfizer presented similar findings that booster shots can protect against infection from the newly identified variant.

Schools Pivot To Require COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

Wesleyan University, a private school in Connecticut with 3,200 students, was the first higher education institution in the country to require booster shots for students, faculty, and staff. University President Michael S. Roth announced the mandate in a videotaped message two days before Thanksgiving.

"Thanks to our high vaccination rates, mask mandates, and robust testing protocols, the Wesleyan campus community has consistently maintained COVID-19 positivity rates lower than our surrounding area. This remains the case, even as we have seen an increase in positive campus cases. Most importantly, since we have the protection of vaccinations, the COVID-19 cases we've had thus far have been asymptomatic or mild," Roth said in his message.

All Wesleyan students are required to get both the COVID-19 booster and a flu vaccine in order to enroll for the spring semester.The deadline is Jan. 14, 2022. To assist students, the university held two booster clinics on campus, making a total of 600 shots available.

Syracuse University, a private institution with more than 21,000 students in upstate New York, was one of the first schools in the country to require COVID-19 vaccinations for its students when it announced that mandate in April 2020.

"That proactive decision proved central to our ability to safely resume campus activities, events and student services throughout the fall semester. For that reason, given data and counsel from public health experts indicating that booster shots are critical to enhancing immunity and public health, Syracuse University will require all eligible students, faculty and staff who routinely access any Syracuse University campus location or facility … to receive a booster shot prior to the start of the spring semester, or as soon as they become eligible," Vice Chancellor J. Michael Haynie wrote in a Dec. 6 letter to students and staff.

Smith College is requiring all eligible students, faculty, and staff to get booster shots by Jan. 21, 2022. Nearly 100% of the 2,100 women who attend the private school in Massachusetts are vaccinated. The college has scheduled a Dec. 12 booster clinic for students

"New guidance from the CDC recommends that 'everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot' as an important additional layer of protection against the omicron variant. Booster shots also ensure protection against severe disease," the college said while justifying its booster mandate.  

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, students must get their booster shots before the start of spring semester on Jan. 25, 2022. Students are also expected to take a coronavirus test two weeks before the start of spring classes.

"Our goal is to provide a safe and robust student experience upon our return to campus in the spring. In accordance with the existing requirement that students be fully immunized against COVID-19, all students will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot," UMass Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said in a statement.

Bentley University pointed to increasing COVID-19 cases when it announced that booster shots will be mandatory for the more than 4,000 students planning to enroll for spring semester classes that begin on Jan. 24, 2022.

"With COVID-19 cases beginning a precipitous rise in Massachusetts and across the country, it's important that we use all of the tools at our disposal to ensure we reduce the risk of the virus spreading on campus," the private university said in its announcement.

"Getting your booster shot will not only give you added protection against contracting COVID-19 or becoming seriously ill, but will also help you to prevent spreading the virus to family members, colleagues and friends," the announcement continued. "By the start of the spring semester, 94% of the Bentley community will be eligible to receive a booster shot."

Hampshire College, a private school in Massachusetts, hosted a booster shot clinic after informing its nearly 800 students that they must get a booster shot by March 21, 2022.

"The decision to implement the booster requirement is consistent with the current requirement that students and employees be fully immunized against COVID-19, and will help us maintain the safest possible campus environment," the college said in a statement to BestColleges.

Bowdoin College President Clayton Rose noted the rising number of coronavirus cases in Maine as the reason for requiring booster shots. The private college's more than 1,800 students must be vaccinated by Jan. 21, 2022, if they plan to return to campus.

"The vaccines are highly effective and are our most powerful tools in protecting the health and safety of everyone here and in Brunswick," Rose said.

New York University is also requiring COVID-19 boosters for all students, faculty and staff by January 18, 2022.

“A booster vaccination against COVID-19 will be a vital – and required – part of NYU’s effort to enhance the safety of the NYU community,” the school said in a statement.