Kenyon must provide free COVID-19 booster and flu shots for all community members on campus this fall, as they did last year.
The initial surge of COVID-19 cases on campus this fall seems to have passed — as of Tuesday night there were 36 active cases, compared to 110 over the weekend — but it clearly demonstrated what we all know: COVID-19 is still with us. While the stringent social distancing and masking measures of the past two and a half years may no longer be necessary, safety measures like vaccination are essential to protect our community, especially its most vulnerable members.
Especially given the approval of an omicron-specific booster earlier this week, it is critical that members of the Kenyon community receive booster shots in a timely manner. Given Kenyon’s rural location and the difficulty students may have traveling to access medical care off campus, Kenyon should offer the vaccine on campus. The time it takes to travel to Mount Vernon — and the unreliability of Knox Area Transit — may dissuade students from going to get the vaccine; the College must make it easy to encourage as many students as possible to get the vaccine. The vaccine clinics should also extend over multiple days so students may find time to go regardless of scheduling constraints.
Additionally, Kenyon should provide the flu shot free of charge. United States health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned that the upcoming flu season may be worse than normal, as exceptionally virulent strains of the flu — which have already been observed in the Southern Hemisphere — are likely to compound with continued COVID-19 cases. By offering this year’s flu vaccine alongside the omicron-specific booster, the College would provide its students, faculty and staff with the best possible protection against a potentially dangerous winter.
We all must do our duty to protect each other, testing and masking when we feel ill, and Kenyon as an institution must also act to safeguard our community by putting up common-sense protections against viral spread.
Amelia, Reid and Salvatore
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Amelia Carnell ’23 and Salvatore Macchione ’23 and executive director Reid Stautberg ’23. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.