Advance Notice: Briefs

Updated: MSU, U of M and WSU will require COVID booster shots for spring semester

By: - December 17, 2021 12:01 pm

Michigan State University | Susan J. Demas

Updated, 4:51 p.m., 12/17/21, 7:38 a.m., 12/18/21, with U of M and Wayne State announcements

Michigan’s largest state university announced Friday that all students, faculty and staff are to receive a COVID-19 booster, beginning with the spring 2022 semester.

In an email Friday morning, Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley said this will “allow for continued in-person learning and experiences.”

“The high vaccination rate among our students, faculty and staff has been an essential component to what has been a successful fall semester. Combined with our face covering requirement, this has created a safer community for our students, faculty and staff to live, work and learn with fewer cases than the communities around us,” Stanley said.

“All members of our campus community who were fully vaccinated either with a two-dose regimen more than six months ago or a one-dose regimen more than two months ago are now eligible for a booster and should immediately receive one,” Stanley said. “Those individuals who are still within the six- or two-month windows (depending on vaccine type) should make plans to receive a booster as soon as they are eligible. Those who fail to receive a booster when eligible will be considered noncompliant with MSU’s vaccine directives.”

A few hours later, the University of Michigan announced it also would be requiring boosters for faculty, staff and students for the next term. And Wayne State University made the same call later on Friday.

“The existing mitigation strategies have allowed our campuses to have a successful in-person fall experience, which has benefited our entire community in so many ways despite the ongoing pandemic,” said Robert Ernst, associate vice president for student life and director of the Campus Health Response Committee.

The University of Michigan | Susan J. Demas

“From the high vaccination rate and required weekly testing for those who are not fully vaccinated, layered on top of indoor masking, prompt case investigation and contact tracing and our wastewater surveillance program, we’ve maintained an environment on campus that has allowed our community to return to many of the pre-pandemic experiences that were missed in 2020. We continue to take additional precautions to help keep our community safe, healthy and together.”

This comes as colleges like Cornell and Georgetown canceled in-person classes and events at the end of the fall 2021 semester amid an outbreak of the omicron variant. Stanley noted that omicron has been detected in Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now strongly recommending boosters for those 16 and older.

U of M said its Ann Arbor campus will continue with in-person activities through the final days of the fall 2021 term, including hosting an in-person commencement on Sunday. In-person classes for the next term are scheduled to resume Jan. 5.

MSU and U of M are part of a group of several colleges in Michigan with a vaccine requirement. However, MSU has been criticized for not requiring proof a vaccine card but only having students fill out a form.

MSU said students, faculty and staff who already have religious or medical exemptions will remain exempt from the booster requirement. Students who are online-only may also request an exemption. The university said it will be updating the vaccine verification form to allow individuals to record their boosters.

The email said vaccine booster sites can be obtained on the Together We Will website.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.