CHICAGO (AP) — Loyola University Chicago is requiring students, faculty and staff to receive a COVID-19 booster shot “as soon as they are eligible” in response to the coronavirus’ omicron variant.
The private Jesuit university, which previously required its campus community to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, announced the booster requirement in an email sent Wednesday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“Given the serious nature of the pandemic and the safety, efficacy, and availability of the COVID-19 vaccines, we are rightly called to make reasonable efforts to protect one another through vaccination and boosters,” Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney and Provost Margaret Faut Callahan said in the email.
School administrators said the booster requirement was spurred on by the “highly transmissive” omicron variant. They said having a high vaccination rate on campus allowed for a “successful” fall semester, and the university hopes to continue that in the spring by requiring booster shots.
People with religious and medical exemptions don’t have to get the booster shot but will have to continue being tested regularly come spring semester.
Illinois’ first two cases of the omicron variant were in Cook County, one in Chicago and the other in the suburbs. Early research suggests the variant may cause a milder version of COVID-19, but the Cook County Department of Public Health expects the omicron variant will soon pass the delta variant as the most circulated variant in the region.