COLORADO SPRINGS — Some Colorado colleges are now requiring the COVID-19 booster shot as the Omicron variant continues to spread.
Colorado College is now the second university in the state to mandate booster shots for students, staff, and faculty. Regis University located in Denver is also mandating it.
Starting January 3, all members of the Colorado College campus community must submit proof of vaccination or exemption.
"I think the mandate is necessary and not out of the ordinary, we already had to be double vaccinated," said Reign Commodore, Colorado College student.
"I think it's good and anything to prevent the spread," said Ashlyn Walker, Colorado College student.
Requiring booster shots is not the only precaution they're taking to slow the spread of the virus. The university is also requiring twice-weekly testing for students, recommended twice-weekly testing for faculty and staff, KN95 masks in all public indoor spaces, limited indoor social interactions, and no food or drink in classes, meetings, or at events.
"I think the general population of students would say it just helps with coming back and feeling more secure in our dorms and public spaces," said Walker.
Given the spread of the Omicron variant, Colorado College administrators say they must anticipate higher numbers of COVID-19 cases among the campus community, and take proactive steps to ensure in-person learning for the spring.
"Vaccines are the best defense against serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID. The booster restores the effectiveness of the vaccine. Because we require the vaccine, have regular testing of students, and implement other protocols such as indoor masking, we’ve been successful in managing COVID this academic year – even stopping a spike in November – and have been able to have in-person classes," said Colorado College COVID-19 Policy and Implementation Committee.
The committee says there is a high vaccination rate on campus— 96.7 percent of students, 90.0 percent of staff, and 98 percent of students.
Colorado College is not the only university implementing changes for the start of the spring semester.
"The testing protocol is effective today for staff. Next week for our faculty and instructors," said Kim Hennessy, Pikes Peak Community College.
Pikes Peak Community College just rolled out its new COVID-19 Testing Protocols for those unvaccinated. To be exempt from the testing requirement requires full vaccination as described by the CDC.
"The most important thing is we wanted to provide a choice to everyone," said Hennessy.
Besides their testing protocols, Hennessy says their facilities department is continuing to clean and masks are still required on campus, but they aren't requiring boosters just yet.
"In time, I believe we will stick with our testing protocol. What we will be looking at are recommendations from the CDC, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and El Paso County Public Health Department. If the definition of full vaccinated becomes fully vaccinated and a booster shot then we would adopt that definition for full vaccinated," said Hennessy.
Colorado College administrators do anticipate enhanced protocols will be temporary as they respond to a potential Omicron surge.
News 5 reached out to surrounding colleges to find out their plans. UCCS plans to hold a meeting Tuesday morning to discuss requiring booster shots. Pueblo Community College and CSU Pueblo have no plans to mandate them at the moment.