U-Illinois requiring vaccine booster for students, employees

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Students, staff and faculty in the University of Illinois system will be required to get a COVID-19 booster shot once they are eligible for a shot, school officials said.

In a mass email sent Thursday announcing the policy, school President Tim Killeen said “there is now significant evidence that vaccinations plus boosters are effective at preventing infections from developing into serious illness.”

Killeen said members of the campus community who already had medical or religious exemptions from the university’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement will also be exempted from the new booster requirement.

The university gave no deadline for the booster requirement, just a “strong encouragement” to get one before the spring semester begins.

School officials announced last month that the university’s Chicago campus and the Champaign-Urbana campus will be starting the spring semester online.

The new policy comes as universities across the nation are responding to a surge in coronavirus cases driven by the fast-spreading omicron variant.

University officials said they will continue to monitor policies and make adjustments where appropriate based on updated guidance.

“In the face of this new variant, we must again act collectively to protect both the health and safety of our communities and the quality of the educational experience that makes the U of I System truly extraordinary,” Killeen said.