Omicron variant has college students thinking about booster shots

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As yet another COVID-19 variant takes the center stage, there’s a big elephant in the room for university students.

“There has been talk amongst the kids about how they would feel if we got a booster if the school required it,” said Druan Gordan-Stacey, a junior on the swim and dive team at the University of Rochester.

This week’s announcement from Syracuse University requiring booster shots has students like Gordan-Stacey and his friends talking.

“I’m not on the fence at all. iI would totally be willing to get a booster shot, especially if it would allow us to not wear masks on campus or to maybe get more in-person events,” Gordan-Stacey said.

The student-athlete hasn’t received his booster shot yet but is just hoping for a normal college experience compared to his sophomore year.

“Last year was really interesting," Gordan-Stacey said. "It’s a lot different than this year. There was a lot less happening on campus and it also felt a lot smaller because there’s a lot less people on campus. There’s a lot of international students and a lot of people who couldn’t travel. Now, campus is really full this year."

On the other side of town, another junior at RIT got his booster so he could visit family, but isn’t a fan of another campus mandate.

“I was definitely really tentative about it. I don’t think it should be a requirement for any of these schools, but I just had to do it to be able to see my niece,” said John O’Connell, a third-year marketing major at RIT.

Like his friendly college rival, this RIT junior just wants to have a normal year at school.

“It’s really nice to be back even with the masks, but it seems like I’ve been fully online or half online for years now. I came into college and I had one normal semester as a freshman and since then, it’s just mandates and masks,” O’Connell said.

Locally, SUNY students are only required to get their first two doses of the COVID vaccine. RIT is consulting with local and state health officials but has not made a decision. Nazareth College, U of R and St. John Fisher are strongly encouraging boosters but don’t currently have any plans for a mandate Hobart and William Smith colleges have a similar plan and intend on holding an on-campus booster clinic in January when students come back.