BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) — A surge in COVID cases and the presence of the omicron variant is prompting the University of Vermont to require students to get booster shots no later than February 1.

“We have watched the Omicron variant take hold rapidly in the U.S.,” said Gary Derr, vice president for operations and public safety. “Medical experts in Vermont and elsewhere agree that the best way to keep our campus healthy is to maximize the protection of our students with boosters as quickly as we can.”

Students have done their part in the effort to hinder the spread of COVID on campus; Dr. Michelle Paavola, medical director of UVM’s Center for Health and Wellbeing, noted that 95% of the students are already eligible for boosters.

For the time being, UVM will continue to provide in-person classes and the school is encouraging students to get tested 48 hours before traveling for winter break.

“We monitor infection rates of our campus community on a daily basis,” said Derr. “In the event that we see upticks in cases, we will take the necessary steps to protect everyone to the best of our ability. For now, our goal is to keep UVM healthy physically and mentally by practicing smart community behaviors like getting boosters, masking indoors, and testing frequently.” 

Those not eligible for the February 1 deadline will have up to 14 days from their date of eligibility to receive the booster. An exemption process is in place for students with medical or religious reasons and exempted students will be required to test regulary.