OSU loosens vaccine requirements, positive cases remain low

Oregon+State+University+students+working+at+the+Student+Experience+Center+on+Jan.+6+organize+containers+for+COVID-19+testing.+Even+with+OSU+no+longer+requiring+community+members+to+receive+their+booster+shots+or+wear+masks%2C+the+rate+of+positive+COVID-19+cases+on+the+OSU+campus+has+remained+low.

Jess Hume-Pantuso, Photographer

Oregon State University students working at the Student Experience Center on Jan. 6 organize containers for COVID-19 testing. Even with OSU no longer requiring community members to receive their booster shots or wear masks, the rate of positive COVID-19 cases on the OSU campus has remained low.

Emma Coke, News Contributor

After Oregon State University announced COVID-19 booster shots for all students and staff and weekly testing for unvaccinated individuals will no longer be required, COVID-19 cases are reported to have remained low.

Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations and Marketing, said cases within the OSU community are similar to the pace of cases in the Benton County community: low. 

According to OSU’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of April 23, there have only been 39 positive COVID-19 cases in the entirety of the month of April despite high levels of testing.

“It is important that we all realize that while cases of COVID-19 will continue, it is the number of most serious cases leading to hospitalization related to COVID-19 that are among the most important indicators,” Clark said.

In a recent message sent out to members of the OSU community, Dan Larson, vice provost for Student Affairs and OSU coronavirus response coordinator, said the decision to loosen vaccine requirements was made in response to high vaccination rates among students and staff as well as recent updates on what is considered fully vaccinated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

We have learned that boosters will become increasingly individualized, with the timing of boosters being based on individual health conditions, age of the person, and timing of past vaccinations,” Larson said in the email. 

According to Larson’s statement, OSU still plans to maintain a requirement of proof of initial vaccination and recommends community members stay updated on their vaccination status in alignment with the CDC. 

While restrictions are being lifted, according to OSU COVID-19 Safety and Success, free self-test kits are available in various locations on campus and Student Health Services provides testing as well. 

Additionally, SHS will be hosting a Beaver Booster Blitz from noon to 7 p.m., April 28 through May 1. All vaccines will be available and masks are required, though ID and insurance are not. 

 “Vaccinations are still an important measure in helping to prevent more serious illness and hospitalization, but testing only unvaccinated individuals no longer meets the intent behind requiring weekly testing – which was to significantly slow spread among those who were more likely to contract and transmit the virus,” Larson stated in the email.

According to OSU COVID-19 Safety and Success, “Currently, 92% of OSU students and 95% of employees are fully vaccinated.” 

Many students and staff on campus, according to Clark, have also already received their booster shots. 

“OSU will continue to promote the latest public health guidance and revisit or adjust its vaccination program requirements and other health measures, as needed,” Clark said.