On Wednesday, students, faculty and staff gathered in droves from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to attend Kenyon’s COVID-19 booster clinic at the Lowry Center, hosted in partnership with Knox Public Health and Knox Community Hospital. By the end of the day, volunteers had administered 730 doses, 504 of which were Pfizer, 206 Moderna and 20 Johnson & Johnson.
In addition to the COVID-19 booster, the College also administered flu vaccines at the clinic, which are required for students this semester. Exact data about the number of flu vaccines given has yet to be confirmed by the College.
Director of Health and Counseling Chris Smith considered the clinic to be an “overwhelming success” for Kenyon. “We are thrilled to have such dedicated staff, supportive campus colleagues and collaborative community partners. Today was a win for Kenyon College and the Knox County community,” Smith wrote in an email to the Collegian.
For the 2021-22 academic year, Kenyon required students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with “reasonable” exemptions for those in unique religious circumstances or with medical conditions. Currently, 98.5% of students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 0.4% in progress towards full vaccination. In addition, 83% of employees are fully vaccinated against the virus. Though the booster shot is not required for students, it is highly recommended for those who received a dose of the vaccine at least six months prior.
Many Kenyon students received their shots last spring, when vaccine eligibility in Ohio expanded for those 16 and older. In April, the College held a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine clinic that was open to the community, and students also utilized Knox Community Hospital, which offered the Pfizer vaccine. By May, 98% of the 1,100 students on campus at the time were either fully or partially vaccinated against COVID-19.
At the clinic, some attendees chose to mix and match their booster shots based on convenience and availability. In a news bulletin sent out a few days prior, the College recommended that students come earlier in the day if they had a specific preference for their booster shot.
Current studies are revealing that getting different vaccines is not only safe and convenient, but can also prime one’s body to more effectively fight against COVID-19. The New York Times reported that the National Institutes of Health conducted a study in June that looked at nine different combinations of vaccines and boosters, with 50 volunteers in each group. While the study found that those who received Moderna for all three shots had the highest antibody levels, those who mixed two initial doses of Pfizer and a Moderna booster were a close second. In addition, those who received an initial dose of J&J showed a fourfold rise in antibody levels after the J&J booster, but had a 76-fold rise after the Moderna booster and a 35-fold rise after the Pfizer booster.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the booster shot for those who are 65 years and older, as well as those aged 18 and up who live in long-term care settings, have underlying conditions or live in high-risk settings. Kenyon students were considered eligible for the booster because of the College’s communal setting. Knox County is also considered a high risk setting, with only a 41.8% vaccination rate and a 11.4% positivity rate, resulting in 35 new positive cases each day.
Later this week, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce an Emergency Use Authorization to expand booster eligibility for all adults aged 18 and older. Pfizer applied for this authorization on Tuesday, and Moderna requested it on Wednesday.
Overall, students and faculty members considered the booster clinic to be a success. Though the lines varied throughout the day, with more traffic in the early morning and at lunch time, all who wanted a booster or flu shot were able to receive one.
“My experience was spectacular! The line was very quick, the staff was kind and understanding, and I felt reassured throughout,” Joanna Kaizer ’22 said.