RICHMOND, Va. -- Facing rising infections and a new COVID-19 variant, colleges across the United States have started to step up their safety protocols.
Some have started to recommend or require that students receive the COVID-19 booster shot.
"I just came back from school, from college. I go to UVA and the numbers were already rising on campus and everyone is wearing their mask there too but it just seems that omicron is so contagious that all that's really going to help is getting a booster," Christian Massengill, a student at the University of Virginia, said.
Massengill got his vaccine at the Arthur Ashe Clinic on Monday. He said that he didn't get the vaccine because it was required by the university but instead, out of concern for the omicron variant.
"It's super contagious and the first two doses don't protect that as well so we wanted to make sure we're protected against all the variants before going to see our grandparents."
When students return for their spring semester, protocols may look different. Some Virginia colleges and universities are considering extending mask mandates, limiting social gatherings and some are even delaying the return to in-person classes.
When it comes to vaccine mandates, Marymount University in Arlington is requiring a booster shot for all students, instructors and staff who will be on campus for the upcoming semester,
Nearby Georgetown, American University and George Washington University are also mandating booster shots of the vaccine.
The University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and VCU are among universities just advising all eligible students and employees to get a booster as case numbers continue to surge across the country.
"The volume of patients that are coming down with COVID that have existing medical problems and COVID are certainly crowding emergency rooms," Carlton Stadler, an emergency room physician at VCU Medical Center, said.
"I think we're a little more cognizant about how easily this could spread and how much of an effect getting a vaccine can have on our ability to spend some time with family," Massengill said.