News and Announcements

Public health update: April 5, 2022

Dear OHIO community members,

One year ago this week, Ohio University announced its schedule of COVID-19 student vaccination clinics. OHIO campuses have hosted more than 100 COVID-19 vaccination clinics, providing free and convenient access to these important vaccines for tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff, and members of our surrounding communities. Our campuses have partnered with local health departments and volunteers to host these clinics – a source of pride throughout our OHIO community.

One year later, we have a highly vaccinated OHIO community – 89.1 percent across all campuses – and extremely low disease across all campuses. These achievements would not have been possible without each one of us playing a key role in prioritizing campus and community health. Thank you for your contributions to these remarkable achievements.

Although disease is low on OHIO campuses, recent results from wastewater testing on the Athens campus indicate a slight increase in the virus. We recommend that residential housing students opt to take an asymptomatic COVID-19 test at our on-campus CVS or Vault Health testing center to rule out asymptomatic disease and to prevent its spread. We will continue to closely monitor disease incidence on campus. 

CDC recommends additional COVID-19 boosters

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that certain immunocompromised individuals and people over the age of 50 who received an initial booster dose at least four months ago are eligible for another mRNA booster to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19. These updated recommendations acknowledge the increased risk of severe disease in certain populations, including those who are elderly or over the age of 50 with multiple underlying conditions.

  • Data continue to show the importance of vaccination and booster doses to protect individuals both from infection and severe outcomes of COVID-19. For adults and adolescents eligible for a first booster dose, these shots are safe and provide substantial benefit.
  • During the recent Omicron surge, those who were boosted were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated, and seven times less likely to be hospitalized. 

CDC recommends that all eligible adults, adolescents, and children five and older be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes getting an initial booster when eligible. Based on emerging research that shows mixing and matching vaccines for booster doses may enhance immune response, some epidemiologists are recommending the practice. This chart outlines booster eligibility and recommendations

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are readily available on the Athens campus and throughout Ohio.  

It's easy to test for COVID-19 before gatherings

Spring is in full swing, with many campus activities planned for the coming weekend, including Moms Weekend and the International Street Fair on the Athens campus. Although disease is low on campus, taking an asymptomatic COVID-19 test before gathering with friends or family will help prevent unintentional spread of the virus. Tests are readily available and free: 

  • Rapid antigen tests are available for pickup on all campuses to self-administer at home (nasal swab), with results in 15 minutes.
  • Our CVS testing center at Grosvenor West offers rapid nasal-swap PCR tests with results available in about an hour.
  • Our Vault Health testing center at Shively Hall offers saliva-based PCR tests with results available in 48-72 hours. 

Public health is where you are

This week is National Public Health Week, with the theme “Public Health Is Where You Are.” The American Public Health Association has identified a week’s worth of public health topics that each of us can explore and find ways to make a difference. Racism, poverty, social isolation, and climate change all can lead to negative health outcomes, and they all are areas where each of us can make a difference by focusing on positive change. I encourage you to join me in taking actions that make our communities healthier, stronger, and safer. 

Dr. Gillian Ice

Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations

April 5, 2022
Dr. Gillian Ice