Being a part of the Vanderbilt community means not only taking care of yourself, but also supporting the health and safety of those around you. There are many ways that your actions can help protect you and others from various illnesses. All members of the VU community should continue to do their part to keep friends, colleagues and fellow community members safe and healthy.
NEW OMICRON-SPECIFIC COVID-19 BOOSTERS
COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing serious illness or hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved a new COVID-19 booster vaccine on Sept. 1. The new bivalent booster has been updated to target two different COVID strains in a single shot: the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5—which currently make up 99 percent of new cases in the U.S.—as well as the original strain of COVID-19.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center will make the new COVID-19 booster available to the community as soon as this week.
Vanderbilt University faculty, staff and postdocs should go to the Occupational Health Clinic located on the sixth floor of the Medical Arts building to receive their booster. Walk-in services are available, and COVID vaccine appointments are not required. The OHC’s business hours are Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit the OHC website.
Vanderbilt University students should go to the Student Health Center to receive their booster. Vaccines are available by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling 615-322-2427 or by messaging the student’s SHC provider via the My Health at Vanderbilt portal. The SHC will begin scheduling boosters on Wednesday, Sept. 14, and the shots will be given beginning Tuesday, Sept. 20. For more information, visit the SHC website.
In addition, you may search for the location nearest you that has the new booster shot available by visiting www.vaccines.gov.
The CDC is encouraging all eligible Americans to get the new booster as it will provide broader protection against COVID-19 this fall and winter as infections rise due to the flu season, oncoming colder weather and more time spent indoors. Vanderbilt continues to work closely with public health experts at the university and VUMC to ensure that our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is grounded in science and expert guidance with the goal of protecting all members of the VU community.
The Pfizer bivalent booster is available to everyone 12 and older, while the Moderna bivalent booster is available to everyone 18 and older. Both bivalent vaccines are authorized for use two months after people have received either their primary vaccine series or their last booster shot, and three months after recovery from their last COVID infection.
SUBMITTING VACCINATION RECORDS
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are not mandatory on the Vanderbilt University campus but are strongly encouraged at this time. Students, faculty, postdocs and staff may submit their vaccination or booster records to the university’s Public Health Central Command Center using the vaccine tracker/submission form.
The Public Health Central Command Center continues to provide support for positive and close contact individuals, contact tracing and notifications, coordination of testing entities, vaccination records intake, and coordination of possible future booster clinics. For more information, visit the Public Health webpage.
PRACTICE HEALTHY BEHAVIORS
Beyond vaccines, there are a number of steps you can take to stay healthy, including:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule, adequate hydration and healthy nutrition, all of which can help boost your immune system.
- Find a way to move your body each day, either through a regular exercise routine or daily activities such as walking between classes or during lunch or by taking the stairs.
- Wash your hands on a regular basis to help prevent the spread of infection.
- Wear a mask around others if you are not feeling well, have had a recent sick contact, or are at a higher risk of infection.
- Don’t neglect your mental health and find healthy ways to connect with your support system. Resources are available through the Student Care Network and the Employee Assistance Program.
- Follow the university’s COVID-19 protocols and get tested when you have symptoms, and follow the recommendations of what to do if you test positive or are a close contact.
Sickness can occur even when taking the utmost precautions. If you are not feeling well, please seek medical evaluation. If you are a student, visit the Student Health Center website for information on services and appointment scheduling. If you are a faculty or staff member, visit Occupational Health.