With spring semester around the corner, it begs the question: masks? Booster shots? What does it all mean? Graphic by Mia Fowler.

COVID-19 is still raging through the country like an angry teenager. Reckless. Unpredictable. Disobedient. Stupid… it’s obviously not taking this whole vaccine thing very well.

Chapman has done its best to discipline this rascal as seen by all of the practices that run the campus today: the masks, the screening, the testing, the security, the vaccine-card-uploading. 

But this semester is coming to a close, and it STILL remains to be seen what next semester holds.

Enter Jerika Lam, an associate professor in Chapman’s school of pharmacy. She is an infectious disease expert with extensive experience in viral infections. In other words, COVID’s worst nightmare. 

Associate professor Jerika Lam of the Chapman University School of Pharmacy. Photo courtesy of Chapman faculty website.

Since the start of the COVID era all the way back in March of 2020, Lam has acted as the “disseminator of information” to the university, closely following the presence of COVID both on and off campus.

Regarding next semester’s protocols, she said:

“I would not be surprised if Chapman will still hold onto its conservative and cautious approach right now for safety in the new semester. It will also depend on the California Department of Public Health, what their new guidance will be in the new year, as well as what new direction the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is going to take.”

With the holidays around the corner and the cold weather bringing families indoors, there will likely be an uptick in cases nationally. Lam is wary of the implications that it may have when students return to campus in the new year, suggesting that Chapman’s current protocols will likely stay in place to combat this uptick. 

Cheers to another semester of mask fatigue?

Senior business major Kelsey Bland has “accepted this as the new norm.”

As has Kailey Guerrero, a senior English major, saying, “While I don’t love it, I will happily continue to do it,” if it means she gets to finish her senior year in-person.

Meanwhile, senior business major Rory Biles made a different point: “I think that our teachers shouldn’t be required to wear masks, especially because it makes it really hard to understand them in class. Obviously if they want to wear one they can, but they should be able to opt out.”

Nevertheless, the fight to combat this virus continues. The CDC has authorized the distribution of COVID-19 booster shots with the aim to provide additional protection to vaccine recipients. As of Nov. 29, the CDC expanded the pool of people eligible to receive it. 

Graph detailing the current distribution of booster shots in the United States. Courtesy of CDC website.

“Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are 6 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their initial J&J vaccine,” per the CDC website. 

Currently, 93% of Chapman students have confirmed that they are vaccinated according to Chapman’s website, which means 93% of Chapman students are eligible for booster shots. 

Senior business major Rory Biles post-booster shot (and flu-shot) at CVS Pharmacy. Photo by Biles.

Among the eligible is Biles, who just got her booster shot at a CVS Pharmacy in Orange. 

This new development seems like the perfect chance to eliminate COVID from our campus… only now, it has friends. An angry mob of teenagers – COVID and it’s evil spawns: Delta and Omicron.

The emergence of the Delta and Omicron variants “further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19,” according to the CDC.

It’s hard to say what next semester holds in this revolving door of variants, but one thing is for certain, according to Lam. Getting a booster shot is a part of a “responsibility for public safety.” 

The good news is that “pharmacies are readily available. You don’t need to pay any copay of any kind,” said Lam.

There are several pharmacies in Orange County where students can get a booster shot. “You can receive a different type of COVID-19 vaccine for your booster than you received for your primary series, or you can choose to stick with the same vaccine,” according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. 


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Mia Fowler is a senior studying business and journalism. When she's not in the classroom, you can find her on the soccer field where she is finishing up her last season with The Panthers.