COVID-19 task force member offers advice to students celebrating the holidays

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Jody Spiess encouraged students to continue mitigation practices, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, during the holiday season.

With winter break just around the corner, there are a lot of different ways to get exposed to COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

Jody Spiess is an assistant professor in the nursing department at Webster University. She also serves on the Webster University COVID-19 task force, and is a nurse herself. She offered advice to students going into the holiday season.

“Don’t forget that we are still in an active pandemic. We are very tired of it, but it is still with us. Be sure to continue the mitigation strategies you have been practicing since the start of the pandemic,” Spiess said.

Graphic by Kenzie Akins.

One way people can protect themselves against the COVID-19 virus is by getting vaccinated. As of Nov. 29, over 90% of students and staff were fully vaccinated.

The COVID-19 booster shot has also been approved for all people over the age of 18. What that means for Webster is within the next 6 months (depending on when a student is fully vaccinated), every single vaccinated student and staff member is eligible for the COVID-19 booster shot.

The booster shot and the first doses of the vaccine are still not 100% going to keep anyone safe from contracting COVID-19.

Spiess also said she will be getting the booster shot and encourages both students and staff to talk to their healthcare providers if they’re apprehensive.

Patrick Giblin, the director of communications at Webster University, is also a part of the COVID-19 task force.

“The CDC endorsed COVID-19 booster shots for all Americans last week. We anticipate that in the coming months, new guidance will be issued by health agencies regarding booster shots, and we will review those new guidelines at that time,” Giblin said.

Giblin also said that the campus will be making adjustments as the country and county does.

Spiess also recommended ways to stay safe during winter break.

“Continuing all those mitigation strategies that we know are effective: masking, handwashing, social distancing [especially when we are in large crowds, indoors and uncertain of others vaccination status],” Spiess said. “It has been a difficult couple of years, and we should all enjoy family and food, but we can do this while continuing to take precautions,” Spiess said.

NPR reported that the new Omicron variant is the most contagious strain of COVID to date. Getting a booster and practicing pandemic guidelines can make Webster’s return after winter break more enjoyable and make sure to stay in person.

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