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A student receiving the COVID-19 booster vaccine on Jan. 18, 2022 at a Penn-sponsored clinic in Gimbal Gymnasium. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Penn will host two COVID-19 booster vaccine clinics next week in Gimbel Gymnasium in the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center.

In an email to the Penn community on Oct. 24, Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé announced that the University will now offer the Pfizer mRNA bivalent COVID-19 booster shot for free to the entire Penn community and their families over the age of 16. The booster clinic will take place from Nov. 3 to Nov. 4. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

"As personal agency and individual decisions will guide us through the next phases of the pandemic, we want to make sure that members of the Penn community have access to resources to protect their health and minimize disruptions to their work or study as we enter the colder months and the holiday season," Dubé wrote to The Daily Pennsylvanian in an email.

As of the fall 2022 semester, Penn required all eligible community members to be fully vaccinated and have received at least one booster vaccine against COVID-19. The University mandated students to submit proof of vaccination to their Wellness Portal. Although Penn is offering the bivalent booster vaccine for free through its upcoming clinic, students are only required to have their primary immunization plus at least one booster shot to satisfy their compliance requirement, Dubé wrote to the DP.

"While students are not required to receive the bivalent booster, they are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the booster clinic on campus to further strengthen their immune response to circulating variants," Dubé wrote.

Community members and their family members can schedule a clinic appointment through Penn Cares booster portal.

All individuals, ages 5 and up, are eligible to receive the bivalent booster vaccine if it has been two months since their last COVID-19 vaccination, whether from the primary series or an original booster, Dubé wrote, citing eligibility recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This new booster enhances the immune system’s response against both the original coronavirus strain and the newer omicron strains,” Dubé wrote.

Philadelphia recently reported an average of 147 new cases per day and a total of 212 hospitalizations, a trend which has remained stable since July. As of Oct. 19, over 520,000 Philadelphians have received the primary vaccination series and an additional booster vaccination, according to data from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Penn’s second COVID-19 booster clinic will mark the third time the University will use Gimbel Gymnasium as a vaccine clinic location this year. In January 2022, Penn held its first-round COVID-19 booster clinic from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19. Most recently, in September 2022, the University held its annual flu clinic at Gimbel, where over 11,000 community members were vaccinated.

Executive Director of Public Health and Wellbeing Ashlee Halbritter previously told the DP that the University chooses Gimbel as a location for vaccine clinics due to a history of success and its accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.