By Radwan Farraj
A new bivalent COVID-19 booster targeting two coronavirus strains is available to eligible individuals. The new booster protects against the original strain of the coronavirus and against two Omicron subvariants that rapidly spread in the U.S. over the summer.
As vaccines and boosters have been made available to NYC residents over the course of the pandemic, nearly 80% of New Yorkers of all ages have also completed their primary series, meaning they have received two does of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. 40.1% of city residents have received an additional booster after completing their primary series, according to a NYC Department of Mental Health and Hygiene report.
Nearly a month into the fall semester, CUNY has seen relatively low numbers of positive cases on its campuses. In CUNY’s most recently recorded week, only 119 tests were recorded positive from a total of 7,981 tests across all campuses, according to CUNY’s COVID-19 Safety Tracker. About 2,100 cases are recorded on average in New York City daily with hospitalizations declining, the city’s website reported as of press time.
“I just feel like people are still getting COVID too much for my liking,” wrote Amara Minott, a senior at BC, when asked if she was concerned about the current state of the pandemic. Minott added,“there is still widespread social trauma from [the] height of the pandemic, society gotta heal before we say the pandemic ends.”
Mayor Eric Adams recently announced a COVID-19 booster campaign meant to encourage New Yorkers to get their booster shots in a press event on Sep. 20, where he received his own dose of the new bivalent COVID-19 booster.
“The new bivalent booster is here, providing better protection against variants we are seeing now and quite likely against variants in the future as well,” said Adams. “We urge all New Yorkers to make a plan to get vaccinated if they are eligible, and we are grateful to the millions of New Yorkers who have already stepped up to keep themselves and their community safe,” stated Adams.
During his announcement, Adams also rollbacked vaccine mandates in the private sector, encouraging private businesses to implement their own vaccine protocols. For student athletes that participate in the Department of Education’s PSAL, Adams made it optional for them to receive their primary COVID vaccine and eligible booster. CUNY has not announced changes to its vaccine mandate for students as of press time. All students enrolled in hybrid and in-person courses this fall are required to have their primary COVID shots unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. Boosters are currently not required for registration. The university’s mask mandate has been lifted since March 2022 following the removal of mask mandates for pre-K through 12th grade schools throughout the state and city. Some areas in the city require masking.
“I think the pandemic is taken more seriously in some areas than others. For example masks are no longer required on trains but my workplace requires them,” Kamarayn Pecoraro, a senior at BC, wrote in a message to the Vanguard.
Though many COVID restrictions have lifted in New York City, some Brooklyn College students are worried about the lasting effects the pandemic will have on mental health. “But knowing how almost everyone was on edge last year and how we are currently dealing with a mental health crisis, the impacts of the last two years and how we recover collectively and individually will define if we are truly relaxed,” opined Austin Dragos, a senior at BC.