Teachers receive booster shots; UChicago requires employee vaccination


Louis Auxenfans

English teacher Colin Rennert-May receives his booster shot during an on-site COVID-19 vaccine clinic Oct. 15.

Louis Auxenfans, Assistant Editor

In an on-site COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Oct. 15, 187 Laboratory Schools teachers and staff received a booster shot.

Many school employees were eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot having received both doses at the University of Chicago Medical Center in late January or February. CDC guidelines approve boosters six months after vaccination for people who work in a high-risk setting, like education.

In updated requirements, the University of Chicago required all employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, except those with a medical or religious reason, according to a letter sent on Sept. 22 from Provost Ka Yee Lee. This vaccination requirement applies to all Lab faculty and staff, eliminating the option for any unvaccinated employees to receive a weekly COVID-19 test.

The letter said, “employees who do not comply with the requirement by Oct. 15 may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.” 

Citing expert guidance, the university has determined that vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk of variants, protect members of the community, and reduce likelihood of sudden COVID clusters.

The booster clinic setup consisted of a single table piled with vaccine jabs and two people administering vaccines. Teachers and staff at Earl Shapiro Hall and the Historic Campus had to present their vaccination cards before receiving the booster.  

Nurse Kristen Szewczyk, who helped organize the vaccine drive, said that its intent was to provide Lab teachers and staff with a convenient way to get their booster.

“We’re offering this as a more of a service for people who would like to get their booster to make it a convenient avenue for getting it,” Nurse Szewczyk said. 

Teachers appreciated the convenient opportunity to get the shot while at work. 

My office is upstairs, so it’s really hard to beat this for convenience.”

— Colin Rennert-May

“My office is upstairs, so it’s really hard to beat this for convenience,” English teacher Colin Rennert-May said. “It’s very very easy and convenient to be able to just walk downstairs and get my shot less than a minute away from my office before I head home for the weekend.”

Science teacher Kenny Fournillier also reiterated gratitude for the convenience. He decided to get the booster after looking at the benefits that come with it. 

“Being a scientist, I believe in science, so the data supports, you know, taking the booster shot as a way of continuing to protect yourself and other people that I have living in my house,” Dr. Fournillier said.

According to the university letter, more than 87% of employees and 94% of students have been vaccinated.