January 4, 2022: COVID Update

Dear Colleagues,

We hope that you were able to get at least some time to recharge this holiday season; we know it has been a very trying couple of weeks. 

As we move through the Omicron wave, we wanted to restart these emails to provide important and timely information. 

What can you do to protect yourself and our community?

Please get your booster vaccine, if you are eligible, continue to wear face coverings (we strongly recommend N95, KN95, KF94 or surgical masks depending on activities), practice physical distancing, and wash hands frequently, even after you have been vaccinated. These measures, in addition to vaccinations, are key to fighting Omicron and other variants. 

How effective are current COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron variant?

Emerging data from South Africa and the UK indicate that current COVID-19 vaccines offer a high level of protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from Omicron and other variants. Even though vaccine effectiveness against infection is lower for Omicron, a COVID-19 booster dose greatly improves vaccine effectiveness against infection. Therefore getting boosters is critically important for personal and public health reasons.

Where can you get booster vaccines?

Columbia University has mandated boosters for all faculty, staff and students effective January 31, 2022. 

As you have heard, the FPO has expanded its booster operations in December. Below is the new January 2022 schedule. 

51 W. 51st Street Booster Schedule - January

Booster Session Opening Schedule through Connect
Friday, January 7, 9am–12pm 1/4 at 8am
Friday, January 7, 1pm–4pm Employee Walk-Ins
Tuesday, January 11, 1pm-4:30pm 1/7 at 8am
Thursday, January 13, 1pm-4:30pm 1/7 at 8am
Friday, January 14, 9am-12pm 1/7 at 8am
Friday, January 14, 1pm-4pm Employee Walk-Ins
Tuesday, January 18, 1pm-4:30pm 1/14 at 8am
Thursday, January 20, 1pm-4:30pm 1/14 at 8am
Friday, January 21, 9am-12pm 1/14 at 8am
Friday, January 21, 1pm-4pm Employee Walk-Ins
Tuesday, January 25, 1pm-4:30pm 1/21 at 8am
Thursday, January 27, 1pm-4:30pm 1/21 at 8am
Friday, January 28, 9am-12pm 1/21 at 8am
Friday, January 28, 1pm-4pm Employee Walk-Ins

ColumbiaDoctors primary care patients may also get a booster during a regular primary care visit. It is also fine to get a booster at a pharmacy or other vaccine site.

Additional Vaccine News

On January 3, 2021, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to: 

  • Expand the use of a single booster dose to include use in individuals 12 through 15 years of age. 
  • Shorten the time between the completion of primary vaccination of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and a booster dose to at least five months. 
  • Allow for a third primary series dose for certain immunocompromised children 5 through 11 years of age. 

The CDC ACIP will meet on January 5th to vote on recommendations.

Thank you and stay safe!

Donna Lynne, DrPH
University COVID Director

Magda Sobieszczyk, MD, MPH  
Chief of Infectious Diseases and Co-Chair of the CUIMC COVID-19 Vaccine Committee  

Melissa Stockwell, MD, MPH  
Chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Health and Co-Chair of the CUIMC COVID-19 Vaccine Committee