News

Amid Backlash to Antisemitic Post, Harvard Professor Resigns From Pro-Palestine Groups

News

‘Unmistakably Antisemitic’: Harvard College Dean Khurana Slams Student Groups Over Instagram Post

News

Brief 2024 Republican Hopeful Will Hurd Discusses Trump’s Reelection Chances at IOP

News

‘A Quick Scroll’: Datamatch Results Bring Free Food and Friendship

News

Despite Rumors, Freshmen Swipe Access to Remain Restricted for River Run

Harvard Drops Covid-19 Booster Requirement as U.S. Public Health Emergency Ends

Boston's Fenway Park used to house a Covid-19 vaccination site. Harvard affiliates will now no longer be required to obtain Covid-19 boosters, though students will still be required to provide proof of initial vaccination.
Boston's Fenway Park used to house a Covid-19 vaccination site. Harvard affiliates will now no longer be required to obtain Covid-19 boosters, though students will still be required to provide proof of initial vaccination. By Steve S. Li
By Alexander I. Fung, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard University Health Services Executive Director Giang T. Nguyen announced Monday that Harvard affiliates will no longer be required to obtain Covid-19 boosters, though students will still be required to provide proof of initial vaccination.

The change in University policy was announced ahead of the May 11 expiration of the United States’ Covid-19 public health emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention characterizes Covid-19 community levels as “low” and transmission levels as “moderate” in Cambridge.

According to Cambridge’s Covid-19 Data Center, which is set to cease updates on May 11, the city saw about 75 new confirmed cases of the virus over the last 30 days — though the data is limited to positive PCR tests, while testing has fallen sharply since the height of the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services website states that battling Covid-19 “remains a public health priority” but that “we can transition away from the emergency phase.”

After May 11, the CDC will no longer collect or publish data on the number of positive Covid-19 cases or the positivity percentage at the county level, as laboratories will not be required to report these numbers. Additionally, health insurance companies will no longer be required to provide free Covid-19 tests.

The government will still provide free vaccines, and higher-risk individuals can still receive Paxlovid for free from their healthcare provider, pharmacist, or the government.

Harvard will also drop its requirement for proof of vaccination for new employees, though HUHS employees and other University healthcare workers will still be required to follow CDC recommendations for staying up to date on vaccination.

“I encourage all members of the community to follow the CDC’s vaccination guidance,” Nguyen wrote. “Thank you for continuing to diligently follow public health guidelines as they have evolved throughout the past few years.”

The end to Harvard’s Covid-19 booster requirement is the latest in a series of pandemic restrictions and protocols to be removed, with the University retiring its contact tracing team and Crimson Clear application in December 2022 — a move that drew mixed reactions from students. Harvard previously ended its Covid-19 testing requirement for affiliates in April 2022.

An HUHS spokesperson wrote that Harvard’s student health insurance plan will continue to provide eight free rapid tests per month for the remainder of 2023. It is unclear whether students on the plan will be able to receive tests after this year.

Employees enrolled in a Harvard healthcare plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield or the Harvard University Group Health Plan will only be able to receive four tests per month through their insurance beginning in July.

In the email, Nguyen encouraged Harvard affiliates to keep higher-risk individuals in mind.

“Vigilance remains important even for lower-risk, vaccinated individuals as long COVID continues to be a concern,” he wrote.

Nguyen noted that people aged 65 and older and those who are immunocompromised can now receive an additional bivalent booster. Harvard affiliates who qualify for the booster can receive it at a pharmacy or from HUHS.

He also urged caution ahead of Harvard’s 2023 Commencement events, recommending that attendees take a rapid test before activities and to not attend if experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor and adjust our guidance as necessary,” he added.

—Staff writer Alexander I. Fung can be reached at alexander.fung@thecrimson.com.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags
HealthGlobal HealthHealth BenefitsFront Middle Feature