An Update on Boosters and Evaluating Campus Air Quality and Ventilation
A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator
Dear Members of the Yale Community,
This week we received important announcements from university leaders and national public health agencies. On Wednesday, Provost Scott Strobel and Senior Vice President for Operations Jack Callahan provided guidance for staff who will return to campus beginning October 4. Throughout the week we heard news from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about COVID-19 booster shots.
In this message I will update you on the FDA and CDC recommendations and how you can receive a booster if you are eligible. I will also answer a question that has been asked frequently by students and staff who have returned or plan to return to campus.
A Busy Week for Boosters
On Wednesday, the FDA extended its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (the Pfizer vaccine) to allow for a single booster dose to be administered to certain groups of individuals who are at least six months past the second doses of their “primary series” vaccinations with the Pfizer vaccine. In accordance with federal procedures, following the FDA’s decision, the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the CDC met this week to develop public health guidance for additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Overnight, the CDC Director announced the CDC’s decision regarding boosters for those who received the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months ago. More specifically the CDC recommends:
- people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series;
- people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series;
- people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks; and
- people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.
The CDC did not make recommendations for boosters in individuals who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J) vaccines but indicated that ACIP will review relevant information about these vaccines “with the same sense of urgency.” The CDC currently does not recommend that individuals who received these vaccines “mix” vaccine doses by receiving a booster of the Pfizer vaccine. Moreover, the CDC confirmed that it continues to consider individuals to be “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the J&J vaccine.
It is extremely likely that, in the coming days, the CDC will offer additional clarification regarding these recommendations. In the meantime, Yale’s COVID-19 Vaccine Program is preparing to offer boosters to eligible individuals starting next week at its new location at 310 Winchester Avenue—scheduling for these clinics should be available later today. Yale New Haven Health System is also offering boosters at its clinics.
What’s been done to assess and modify air quality and ventilation on campus?
Attention to air quality and ventilation in campus spaces is another important “layer” of protection in our COVID-19 health and safety program. Many of you who have returned to campus or anticipate returning have asked how your spaces have been evaluated.
Facilities Operations and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) have conducted an extensive review of buildings on campus to assess and optimize air quality and ventilation, using guidance from the CDC, as well as standards from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
Where indicated by this review, Facilities Operations made a number of modifications, including:
- extending the run times of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems,
- upgrading air filters, and
- increasing air exchanges to optimize outdoor air supply.
In certain spaces with limited natural or mechanical ventilation, occupancy has been restricted.
If you have a question about the air quality or ventilation in your campus space, you may contact your Facilities Superintendent or EHS Safety Advisor for an evaluation. More information is available on the Returning to Yale Facilities Information page.
I look forward to welcoming those of you who will be returning to campus soon. And, once again, I extend my thanks to all those on and off campus who have worked so diligently to protect the health and safety of our community.
Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator