COVID-19 Boosters (November 19, 2021)

To faculty and staff, 

Thank you for all you are doing and have done during this very difficult semester. I hope you will have a chance to gather with family and friends and to rest next week.

If you have been following the news, you know that the COVID-19 pandemic is again on the rise in Maine, nationally, and around the world. In the US, a decline in the number of cases that began in late August bottomed out in October, and cases have been increasing ever since. Here in Maine, we have more cases of COVID-19 today than at any time during the entire pandemic, with the virus spreading primarily among unvaccinated people in the state’s rural areas. According to Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine CDC, unvaccinated people account for 86 percent of all COVID-19 cases in Maine since vaccinations became available last spring, and 99 percent of vaccinated residents of the state have not contracted the disease. These are stunning statistics that speak volumes about the efficacy and importance of the COVID-19 vaccinations.  

Also in the news today is the announcement by the Food and Drug Administration authorizing booster shots of both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for everyone over the age of eighteen. This follows the announcement by Maine Governor Janet Mills on Wednesday making all adults here eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. Why are boosters important? While it is clear that initial vaccinations are highly effective in preventing serious illness, new evidence suggests that their efficacy declines over time. And, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci H’21, booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines may soon become the standard for a full vaccination. Subscribers to The New York Times can read more about the arguments for boosters in today’s edition (by the way, the Bowdoin Library provides free access for current students, faculty, and staff to the Times, the Wall Street Journal, and to other newspapers.) 

As cold weather drives more Americans indoors and as gatherings increase during the holidays, we may face what Dr. Fauci is calling a “double whammy” winter surge, and this is another good reason for all of us to receive a booster vaccination as soon as we can—generally six months after our initial vaccination. There are resources available online that provide information about the boosters and where to get one in Maine.  

Shortly after the Thanksgiving break, we will provide more information about our plans, protocols, and requirements for keeping our campus safe and healthy in the new year. In the meantime, faculty and staff should remember to pick up two boxes of BinaxNOW test kits this coming Monday or Tuesday (Nov. 22–23) at the Mail Center (Smith Union) or OneCard office (Coles Tower). We ask that the second test be taken within twelve hours of your return to work on campus after the Thanksgiving break. Faculty or staff who are not on campus either Monday or Tuesday next week should go directly to the Mail Center or OneCard office on Monday, November 29, to pick up and perform the test prior to starting your workday.  

Again, thank you for your amazing work and your support for our students and for one another. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Sincerely, 

Clayton