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University of Illinois system adds booster requirement

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The University of Illinois system is the latest to require COVID booster shots to be on campus.

University President Tim Killeen announced today (Thursday) faculty, staff and students will need to get the shots when eligible.

Many colleges and universities have added the requirement as cases surge. Killeen says those who have been granted a medical or religious exemption previously will be allowed to skip the booster.

The U of I required those on campus during the fall semester to be fully vaccinated, unless they were exempted. Those individuals had to test regularly. New testing protocols have been added for everyone as the spring semester nears.

The Urbana and Chicago campuses will start the upcoming semester online.

At Springfield, in-person classes will take place, although faculty will be allowed some flexibility to request remote teaching.

UIS says faculty will be provided KN-95 masks, which provide better protection. The campus said January 21 is the deadline for most individuals to get their booster shots. The school is also planning a vaccination clinic on January 18 with more details to come.

Below is the system-wide email sent Wednesday:

A few weeks ago, we encouraged all faculty, staff and students to get a COVID-19 booster shot. Due to recent increases in COVID-19 cases, evolving information about the more transmissive Omicron variant, and new CDC guidelines, the University of Illinois System is now requiring that all faculty, staff and students get a COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they are eligible (see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for details on eligibility).

There is now significant evidence that vaccinations plus boosters are effective at preventing infections from developing into serious illness.

Those who have already received exemptions from the vaccination requirement for medical or religious reasons will be exempted from the booster requirement. For employees covered by a union contract, guidance will be implemented at the universities through the applicable collective bargaining processes.

Please look for further, more detailed, communication from your university on boosters and other safety measures applicable to each campus.

Throughout the pandemic we have worked diligently to keep our universities and their surrounding communities safe. Now, in the face of this new variant, we must again act collectively to protect both the health and safety of our communities and the quality of the educational experience that makes the U of I System truly extraordinary.

We will continue to monitor our policies, adjusting where appropriate based on advances in scientific understanding and updated guidance from public health authorities.

Thank you again for your vigilance and your commitment to each other. I hope you had a joyous holiday season and a restful break.

Sincerely,

Tim

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