Booster requirement causes confusion among students during spring registration


AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass. Pfizer said Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective.

DePaul administration’s March 1 deadline for students to submit proof of their Covid-19 booster has created confusion and potential scheduling issues as spring registration opens weeks before.

DePaul’s administration announced on Jan. 13 that they are requiring students, faculty and staff to receive the Covid-19 booster as soon as they become eligible. The emailed announcement stated that students would be required to submit proof of a booster by March 1 and would be unable to register for in-person classes until this requirement is met.

Registration for DePaul’s spring quarter began on Feb. 10, and those yet to submit proof of booster were unable to sign up for any classes or even be added to a classes waitlist. This left students wondering why the deadline was after registration period for spring opened..

“The March 1 deadline versus when class scheduling starts is majorly misleading,” freshman Parin Sensenbrenner said.”It’s a problem if someone has an issue submitting [proof of booster] or if it takes a long time to process.”

Through Campus Connect, DePaul reveals that immunization document processing can take up to seven days after proof has been submitted. Despite this, the registrar’s office doesn’t foresee any issues with spring registration, even as many DePaul students rush to upload documents and hammer out their schedules.

“We do not anticipate the booster requirement to have any negative impact on registration numbers,” said University Registrar Michael Wright in a statement to The DePaulia. “In fact, as of Feb. 15, approximately 60 percent of students who are eligible for the booster have submitted documentation, and that number is rapidly rising. Students can submit documentation at any point. We highly encourage them to do so as soon as possible.”

The Center for Disease Control recommends waiting at least five months before getting a booster for those who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. This waiting period can make things tricky for students like Sensenbrenner, who couldn’t get vaccinated as early as others. DePaul gave students until Aug. 19, 2021 to submit proof of their Covid-19 vaccine.

“It was a bit of a scramble for me,” Sensenbrenner said, as she also explained there was some ambiguity to the confirmation that her proof had been successfully uploaded and processed correctly. “They never really sent a note to say, ‘oh hey, this has been received, you’re good to go.’ It was more like, well I hope [my submission worked].”

Scheduling has consequences for students. It can mean less time to earn money at a job, a complicated commute or even a delayed  graduation date if a required class becomes filled before a student can sign up.

“I think registration can be very stressful,” said freshman Paige Maki, who already felt pressed to sign up for classes, even though she had submitted her booster very early in the process.

Freshmen like Maki are in the last registration window and have less open seats to choose from when they’re finally able to schedule classes.

“When I registered, there were only a few spots left,” Maki said. “If [someone] doesn’t have their booster uploaded or processed, they’re not able to get into the classes they need.”

DePaul’s reasoning behind the March 1 decision was to give students enough time to receive the booster.

“March 1 provided a consistent deadline and a reasonable amount of time for all members of the DePaul community — faculty, staff and students — to meet the requirement,” university spokesperson Mary Hansen said in a statement to The DePaulia.

Students believe this deadline should have been different.

“It was DePaul’s responsibility to announce that they would be requiring boosters earlier,” Maki said. “We went to break and were home so long that people had the time to get boosters, but [administration] called it very late and didn’t give students much time.”

Registration began less than a month after DePaul announced the requirement and weeks before what some students ultimately feel is an arbitrary deadline of March 1.

“They should’ve put the deadline before registration,” Maki said. “I don’t understand why they didn’t make the decision earlier on.”