COVID-19 booster shots now available at VUMC

Eligible students and faculty can now receive the Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson booster vaccines at student health and the occupational health clinic respectively. 10,000 Vanderbilt students and faculty members received the Pfizer booster during VUMC’s Boosta-Palooza event.

 A second-year medical student receives their COVID-19 booster shots at VUMC on Oct. 7, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Jazlyn Selvasingh)

Jazlyn Selvasingh

A second-year medical student receives their COVID-19 booster shots at VUMC on Oct. 7, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Jazlyn Selvasingh)

Jazlyn Selvasingh, Staff Writer

As of Oct. 28, VUMC announced that they will be administering both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson booster shots to eligible Vanderbilt recipients. Previously, only the Pfizer booster was available and was administered during the Boosta-Palooza event. Per the announcement, no appointment is necessary to receive a booster shot. Eligible students can receive the booster at the Student Health Center and faculty can do so at the Occupational Health Clinic. 

“Pfizer booster shots are available to those who meet eligibility requirements, regardless of which vaccine you received for your primary series,” the VUMC announcement said.

This announcement follows the Boosta-Palooza event, a VUMC initiative to provide booster COVID-19 vaccines to eligible employees. This event was exclusive to eligible Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff who received the initial Pfizer series and was held outside Light Hall on Oct. 5-8, during which an estimated total of 10,000 individuals received their third doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, per VUMC. 

Prerequisites for receiving the booster shot at Boosta-Palooza included completing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine series at least six months prior to the booster without a significant adverse reaction. Eligible recipients also had to be a first responder, medical student/staff member, nursing student/staff member, over the age of 65, child care staff member at The Acorn School or Susan Gray School or a vaccinated and immunocompromised individual. Eligible individuals received an email to schedule an appointment in accordance with physical distancing requirements. 

Keano Rich, a junior, received the booster shot this semester at a nearby CVS. This was prior to the Boosta-Palooza event at Vanderbilt. 

“I was eligible for the shot because I am immunocompromised due to a chronic condition, and I found out about it from my mother, who’s been looking for opportunities for me to get a booster shot to keep me safe,” Rich said. “I’m glad she found one so soon.”

Although Boosta-Palooza has ended, eligible individuals can still receive a booster vaccination regardless of their initial vaccination series.

“Employees who still need a booster can get one at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks or through Occupational Health Clinic,” Holly Fletcher, VUMC media equity and emerging platforms director, said. “The booster is offered but not mandated for employees as part of the workforce vaccination requirement.” 

This year, Boosta-Palooza was held instead of Flulapalooza because of the ongoing risk of COVID-19, according to VUMC. The second annual FLUla-2-Uza event was held this year to promote flu vaccination among Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students. FLUla-2-Uza follows COVID-19 safety precautions while still making the flu vaccine accessible to the Vanderbilt community as vaccines can be brought directly to departments. 

Given that most of the VUMC workforce was vaccinated for COVID well more than 6 months ago, and given the ongoing risk of exposure to the virus’ highly contagious delta variant, the Medical Center’s Occupational Health and Infection Prevention experts made the decision to hold ‘Boosta-Palooza’ instead, creating a one-day, come-all opportunity for those who qualify for COVID-19 boosters to increase their protection,” VUMC said in a message to The Hustler.

Shelby Pybus contributed reporting to this piece.