La Salle hosts COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine clinics


Jakob Eiseman, Former Editor-in-Chief

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The updated COVID-19 booster is bivalent, meaning it contains components from two different strains.

La Salle University is set to host two on-campus vaccine clinics for members of the La Salle community in the Union Ballroom. It will provide those eligible with the updated COVID-19 boosters as well as this season’s flu shot free of charge. Any member of the La Salle community 18 years or older is eligible to attend. The first clinic will be held Oct. 12 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the second on Wednesday, Oct. 19 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The clinics will only offer the updated COVID-19 booster to those who received their single dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or their second dose of their Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine series more than two months prior to booster administration. Those who have already received a booster to their COVID-19 vaccination or series, must have received the booster more than two months prior to be eligible for the new booster.

The updated COVID-19 booster is bivalent, meaning it contains material from two strains of the virus. It contains a portion of the original COVID strain that was known to be the cause of the pandemic since March of 2020, as well as a portion of the BA 1 Omicron strain, which was first identified late last year. By most accounts, those who received their original vaccine or series were protected heavily against the symptoms of Omicron, but not entirely from the virus itself. 

This new booster promises to raise immune system protection against COVID-19 and Omicron, as well as bolstering symptom resistance already granted by the original vaccine.

The La Salle University COVID-19 portal’s latest information states that since the beginning of this semester, 75 members of the La Salle community have contracted COVID-19. Continuing to mask, test regularly and shelter in place are still the most effective and simplest ways to stop the spread of COVID-19, but adding a first or second COVID booster to your arsenal is perhaps the best way to protect yourself from the virus.

In addition to COVID boosters, the vaccine clinic will also provide flu vaccines to those who request one. The CDC has stated that “while limited data exist on giving COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines… experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are generally similar whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines.”

Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and health policy at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said in an interview with NPR, “If we have a serious influenza season, and if the Omicron variants continue to cause principally mild disease, this coming winter could be a much worse flu season than COVID.” He also said that this could finally be the year that we see the rise of the long-warned “twindemic,” a season in which COVID-19 and Influenza are just as infectious.

Even those that do not traditionally receive their flu vaccine are encouraged to consider it this season, as the possibility of a twindemic or flu outbreak on campus alongside steadily climbing late year COVID numbers could send the La Salle community back online if not kept in check.
To register for a COVID-19 bivalent booster, flu vaccine or both, click here or email for details.

La Salle institutes new masking policy


Kylie McGovern, Editor

Header Image: La Salle

On March 2, Interim President Tim O’Shaughnessy responded to the recently revised city mask guidelines explaining that, although the Philadelphia Department of Public Health issued an adjustment to its indoor masking policy, La Salle’s COVID-19 response team reviewed these revised public health guidelines and waited to update the campus community regarding any potential policy changes. Until that new update, the current indoor masking policy remained in effect. O’Shaughnessy continued to encourage COVID-19 boosters and vaccines because they remain the greatest tools for reducing severe illness in our community and returning to a more active campus life.

On March 4, just days after  the original update, O’Shaughnessy wrote to the La Salle community again to announce that “beginning Monday, March 7, La Salle University will transition to recommending, but not requiring, that masks be worn indoors. Everyone must continue to carry an appropriate mask with them at all times.” This changing mask policy follows the guidance of federal and local health agencies and was decided with the counsel of La Salle’s COVID-19 response team. 

There are still circumstances where masks will be required like on the University shuttle, in clinical healthcare settings and in the COVID-19 testing center. In addition, masks are required to be held in the event that an individual asks others to be masked in their presence. If asked to mask up, it is recommended students follow the request.

During the upcoming spring break (March 12–20), La Salle will likely see a significant portion of our community travel away from campus. Therefore, masks will be required for the five-day period immediately following the University’s spring break, the week of March 21–25, as a preventative strategy. O’Shaughnessy does, however, explain that “masks have helped limit the spread of COVID-19. If necessary, we will not hesitate to reinstitute a mask mandate in the event that we experience significantly increased case counts on campus or in the region.” 

As for other universities in the area and their mask mandates, many of these schools are on spring break. But, Temple University’s Senior Director of Health Services, Mark Denys, explained that “out of an abundance of caution, the university will still require the use of masks inside buildings when we return to campus next week.” Furthermore, Saint Joseph’s University’s president Mark C. Reed, Ed.D., explained on March 2 that “Given declining numbers regionally and nationally, our very high community vaccination rate and updated guidance from the CDC, City of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, the University will no longer require masks be worn indoors in all shared or common spaces at all times. Beginning tomorrow, March 3, masks will be optional on campus.” Drexel University decided that “despite loosened local mask ordinances, Drexel’s indoor mask requirement will continue at least through the end of winter term (through March 19, 2022) while we assess community needs moving forward. Masks are also still required on public transit throughout Philadelphia.” 

In speaking to a few students about the new mask guidelines, the Collegian’s Managing Editor David O’Brien kept his response simple, saying, “I’m glad we don’t have to wear them anymore,” but junior biology student Luke Szyszkiewicz explained that he “doesn’t like how confusing the different rules are between different professors and the university.”The Collegian’s Editor-in-Chief Jake Eiseman says, “I think dropping the mask guidelines on campus is a positive move. It’s in accordance with the CDC’s and the city’s recommendations and cases have been low on campus for months now. Giving people the option to take the mask off should be seen as a good thing overall, but there are bound to be a few bad apples. Many people will continue to wear the mask regardless, and some will remove them when they feel it is safe, but some will never wear a mask again even when expressing symptoms, and that is my main concern.” 

Editor’s Note: Although I am personally excited that we no longer have to wear masks because our cases are quite low, I think that these conditions should only prevail with high vaccination rates and requirements. I think that taking away the masks is a good decision for now and likely the remainder of the semester, but I hope the university continues to closely moderate cases and surges so that the campus’s health remains a top priority.

Campus COVID-19 Update


Kylie McGovern, Editor  

La Salle University student wearing a mask on campus

On Jan. 5, La Salle University released an update on COVID-19 and the spring semester. This notice included information about a booster requirement, updating vaccine information, testing, masking and student programming. Regarding the vaccine, La Salle University is requiring all members of the campus community receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose within 30 days of eligibility to minimize the number of community members who may become infected or need to quarantine because of exposure. Those who are vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 will have more flexibility with quarantine and isolation protocols per newest CDC guidance. Some members of the La Salle community already have an approved exemption on file with the University and will continue to be exempt, but unvaccinated individuals must either double-mask or wear a KN95 mask while indoors per The Philadelphia Department of Public Health. La Salle University has created a deadline and community members must receive a COVID-19 booster shot and submit verification to the University by Tuesday, Feb. 15.

In addition, Once a member of the La Salle community has received the COVID-19 vaccine and/or booster, students and employees must update their vaccination records on file with the University. In addition, for non-residential students and employees, entry testing is available and strongly encouraged. Testing is available at no expense and without an appointment. In addition to residential student entry testing, The Treetops Café testing center has expanded the hours of operation. 

In addition, unvaccinated individuals are required to complete weekly testing. Students who do not comply with testing requirements will face disciplinary action through Student Conduct. Failure to comply with one test will result in a temporary restriction to campus. Failure to comply with two or more tests will result in suspension. Faculty or staff who do not comply with testing requirements will face disciplinary action through HR with action up to termination. However, there was a 95% vaccination rate as of Dec. 15, so only a small percentage of the community needs to adhere to this testing. 

Furthermore, masks continue to be a requirement in all indoor settings on La Salle’s campus. Since the omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, La Salle University recommends surgical-grade masks and KN95 masks. The University has a supply of surgical, N95, KN95, and University-branded cloth masks that are available to students and employees. Limited quantities of each supply can be obtained at the on-campus testing center at Treetops Café as well as in each residence hall security desk reception area and Union Information Desk. 

As for in-person extracurricular activities, student Organization Programs and Meetings will need to be virtual through the end of February. Student organizations are encouraged to wait on hosting in-person events until after February, after a review of the institutional positivity rate has been conducted. However, the university has identified some Office-led events to host in-person to provide some limited safe interaction, and student organizations will be permitted to table in the Student Union Lobby. Overall, with the week of in-person classes, La Salle is operating to best facilitate in-person learning while mitigating the risks of COVID-19. 

CDC to re-evaluate Johnson & Johnson vaccine as halt due to cases of rare blood clots lingers on


Elizabeth McLaughlin, Staff

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was paused due to cases of rare blood clots associated with those who received the shot.

On April 20th, Johnson & Johnson announced that the European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) reviewed the company’s vaccine and confirmed that the overall benefit-risk profile remains positive. 

In recent months, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has been linked to a small number of cases of blood clots in combination with low platelet counts. These cases, though small in number, were enough to draw international concern. The EMA made it clear on Tuesday that there is some validity to these links between Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and blood clots. Moreover, in a press release, the EMA stated “that a warning about unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be added to the product information for COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen.”

The EMA relied on all available evidence, it said, which included eight U.S. reports of serious blood clot cases. As of April 7th, more than 7 million people had received the J&J vaccine in the United States.

The linkage between the vaccine and blood clots is not unique to Johnson & Johnson. In March, more than a dozen European countries halted the use of the AstraZeneca shot after some people who received the vaccine reported experiences of blood clots. 18 of these cases turned out to be fatal, compared to only one case of fatality linked to the Johnson & Johnson shot. The EMA stated that “unusual blood clots with low platelets” should be listed as “very rare side effects” for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

On Friday, April 23rd, vaccine advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet to make recommendations regarding the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They will be meeting less than two weeks after the CDC and US Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause on the use of the Janssen vaccine. The pause gave experts time to work with doctors regarding the identification and treatment of these rare blood clots.

Moreover, ranking members at the CDC project said that “there will likely be more reports of blood clots connected to the vaccine” (Mascarenhas, CNN). Dr. William Schaffner, a non-voting member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, stated that he and his colleagues need to understand the demographics of blood clot cases before they can move forward with a decision. Dr. Schaffner said that on Friday, the ACIP could give the all-clear for the vaccine, or it could recommend that the US stop using the vaccine entirely. Dr. Schaffner thinks it is likely that the ACIP will recommend the use continues with warnings about possible adverse side effects. Additionally, Dr. Schaffner says it is wise for high-risk people to avoid the vaccine altogether.

The chair of the ACIP, Dr. Jose Romero, who is also Arkansas’ secretary of health, says that the committee has reviewed enough data at this point to make a responsible decision. Although more data will be presented on Friday, Dr. Romero believes that the committee will likely affirm the vaccine’s legitimacy after estimating the risk-benefit analysis. However, there are currently so few cases of blood clots that it is hard to assess the entire picture of risk. For example, all but one case were in females; some members of the ACIP are concerned that cases among men or older people might arise in the near future. The ACIP would benefit from more data in the form of blood clot cases, but those looking to receive the vaccine might not benefit.

Dr. Romero stated, “I really hope that the American public will look at this pause and look at what we have done during this pause as an indication of how safe the vaccine system and the vaccine pipeline is in this country.”

The overpromising and under-delivering of AstraZeneca


Elizabeth McLaughlin, Staff

NBC News

Shares in AstraZeneca have dropped 8.1 percent in the last six months as the public loses confidence in the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.

We are now over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and millions across the world are beginning to feel a little more at ease as countries ramp up their vaccination efforts. Those in the U.S. are familiar with the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. On Monday, AstraZeneca released results of a large U.S. trial, claiming that the vaccine was shown to be safe and 79 percent effective in preventing symptomatic disease.

Meanwhile, regulators in Denmark, Germany and Norway identified reports of serious or fatal blood clots among young people who had been administered the AstraZeneca vaccine. Although the number of reported cases is small, regulators argue that it is statistically significant; Germany halted the distribution of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and most other countries soon followed suit. New Zealand decided to donate its supply to countries in need, opting for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot instead. South Africa sold its AstraZeneca doses. Confidence in the company’s vaccine is dropping and so is their stock price.

Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, instituted a lockdown that will not be lifted until at least April 18. Germany’s DAX, the blue-chip stock market index comprising the thirty largest actively traded companies on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, was down 0.1 percent as of Tuesday. On top of that, “yields are falling as investors look to bonds for safety,” according to Al Root via Barron’s. The 10-year U.S. treasury yield dropped to 1.63 percent Tuesday. 

Moreover, U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca dropped two percent in premarket trading; shares in London fell more than one percent. Overall, AstraZeneca shares have dropped 8.1 percent in the last six months, compared to the Zacks Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry’s gain of 4.8 percent. Although confidence in AstraZeneca’s vaccine is low, some of the company’s other drugs could pick up the slack. Cancer drugs Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi, according to the Nasdaq analysts, “should keep driving revenues”.

In December 2020, analyst Jim Crumly wrote on The Motley Fool that AstraZeneca was “one of the most attractive buys in the industry at the moment.” A Morgan Stanley analyst predicted that AstraZeneca’s 2021 profit could increase by 30 percent because of their COVID-19 antibody medicine.

But just last week, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stated that “AstraZeneca has unfortunately underproduced and underdelivered.” If that weren’t enough, on Tuesday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease reported more concerns about AstraZeneca’s efficacy from its vaccine trial. More specifically, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as an independent expert group, “wrote a rather harsh note to [AstraZeneca]… saying that in fact they felt that the data that was in the press release were somewhat outdated and might in fact be misleading a bit,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday. Despite this, Fauci maintains that AstraZeneca has likely produced “a very good vaccine.”