As many approach the six-month mark after receiving their initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, national and local health officials have begun to outline guidance on boosters and third doses.
Following CDC guidance, the UCCS Wellness Center offers Moderna vaccine boosters to those at high risk of severe COVID-19 because of age, where they live or work, and third doses to those who are immunocompromised.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health and Wellness Stephanie Hanenberg explained the following guidelines for Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients who have been vaccinated for at least six months:
Booster doses are recommended for those 65 years or older, or 50 to 64 years old at high risk. Those who are at high risk between 18 and 49 years old, or at high risk because of where they live or work between 18 to 64 years old, may also receive a booster dose.
“We will continue to offer vaccines in accordance with CDC guidance so as it expands, so will the individuals eligible through clinics being hosted on campus,” Hanenberg wrote via email.
According to Hanenberg, examples of those in high risk living and workplace environments include correctional or senior living residents, educators and grocery store employees. Employees who work in person on campus are also eligible, according to a Nov. 11 email from the Wellness Center.
The CDC website provides further guidance on who meets the criteria.
While these groups are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster, the third dose is different. “For the Moderna vaccine being offered on campus, booster doses are 1/2 the dose of the initial two doses. Immunocompromised individuals receive a 3rd dose versus a booster, which is the same dose [amount] as the first two they received,” Hanenberg said.
The CDC has also authorized mix and match dosing for boosters, allowing individuals to receive a different vaccine type for their booster than they originally received.
“Per the CDC, it is recommended that your booster is the same as your original series, but it is acceptable to change vaccines should the individual opt to,” Hanenberg said.
Additionally, Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients who meet the criteria may receive a booster dose of any vaccine two months after their single dose, according to Hanenberg.
Hanenberg said the Wellness Center will continue to offer only the Moderna vaccine and booster due to storage capabilities and consistency of records.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a significant slowdown in the number of individuals who are interested in starting the COVID vaccination series, but we have seen numerous individuals interested in receiving booster doses,” Hanenberg said.
According to University Communications’ weekly COVID-19 email update on Nov. 5, UCCS’ vaccination attestation rate is at 85% for students and 91% for faculty and staff. Those who do not complete the attestation will continue to see a hold on their Spring 2022 registration.
“It is not too late to get the COVID vaccine and with community cases being so wide-spread, we encourage all individuals to consider starting or completing their series as soon as possible,” Hanenberg said.
“Vaccinations have been proven to be a critical factor in minimizing hospitalizations and deaths and [are] key to helping end this pandemic,” she said.
UCCS faculty, staff and students can begin or continue vaccination through the Wellness Center at upcoming clinics on Wednesday, Nov. 17 from 11 a.m. to noon and Wednesday, Nov. 24 from 10-11 a.m. To sign up for appointments, students must use the registration links sent via email by the Wellness Center.
For more information on cases, see the UCCS COVID-19-ready dashboard.