St. A’s vaccine mandate opens potential for normalcy


Courtesy/Jernej Furman

Saint Anselm College reaches 94% vaccination rate, talks of a potential third dose spark new questions

Thomas DeRoche, Medical Correspondent

After a year and a half of school disruptions and virtual learning, we now have the tools to allow us to return to some level of normalcy. Vaccinations, mask-wearing, and social distancing are all proven strategies for mitigating transmission of the Coronavirus. High rates of vaccination among Saint Anselm students can help achieve herd immunity on campus.

Herd immunity is achieved when a sufficient number of a population has antibodies, either through vaccination or from acquiring the disease. According to Maura Marshall, Director of Health Services, as of September 3, 94% of Saint Anselm students were vaccinated. While the vaccines have proven highly effective against serious illness and hospitalizations, “breakthrough” infections do occur among vaccinated individuals.

To date, there have only been three positive cases of COVID on campus, two of which coming from unvaccinated students. Marshall said, “the contact tracing resulted in 37 people being identified as potential close contacts and all have tested negative.” This demonstrates the efficacy of the vaccine and other protocols on campus, including “rapid testing, isolation housing, and a significant amount of experience controlling clusters,” continued Marshall.

Mask-wearing has also helped to prevent the spread of COVID. The seating in most classrooms has returned to normal, leaving students in close contact with each other. For safety reasons, many professors requested students wear masks while in class. According to the CDC, the Delta variant of COVID “is highly contagious, more than 2x as contagious as previous variants.” This means that people can get sick after exposure to a smaller amount of the virus. Mask-wearing is an easy way to combat this. While mask-wearing is not required on campus, Marshall said that might change “if we see significant breakthrough cases or outbreaks indicating active transmission of the virus on campus.”

Marshall also explained that the campus would switch to remote learning “if we are not able to control cluster outbreaks and there is significant transmission of a pandemic virus.” The booster shot, a later supplemental dose to help a person maintain immunity to a disease, could prove effective in keeping that from happening. The booster shots are recommended for people who have been vaccinated more than 8 months ago. They will be available starting on September 20. Last week, the FDA announced its full approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

The college administration has not made any announcement on whether the booster shot will be mandatory for students. “I will be following up with the Manchester Health Department and DHHS regarding distribution, but I’m thinking that this would be more appropriate for next year given that the majority of our students have received their vaccinations within 8 months,” said Marshall.

Students are encouraged to get tested if they are sniffling, coughing, or have a fever or sore throat. Masks are mandatory for any students experiencing any COVID symptoms to keep the rest of the community safe and to help maintain a more “normal” school year.