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Is SAU in for a COVID Winter? Nurse Nancy Shares Her Perspective

Fall has begun, and winter is fast approaching here at St. Ambrose. While there are many festive activities for students to enjoy, there are also continuing concerns about another COVID winter. Kathy Katella an expert at Yale medicine says, “As winter approaches, it’s hard to predict whether there will be a new wave of COVID-19 cases. But experts are now monitoring more than 300 other descendants of Omicron around the world, including BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, subvariants of BA.5”

When it comes to protection against these new variants Katella adds, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized bivalent vaccine booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech for children and adults 5 years of age and older, and from Moderna for those 6 and older. Bivalent means the shot protects against two strains of a virus, and these COVID-19 boosters are designed to protect against both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Omicron variant.”

As the campus enters another winter, Nurse Nancy remains optimistic so far.

“The good news is although I’m seeing lots of upper respiratory illnesses which is typical this time of year, the COVID numbers have decreased to pre-pandemic levels. Reported positive cases of COVID to my office from students are down so far this fall 2022 semester.  Public health professionals are also reporting a lower number of cases of COVID in our area and nationally currently.”

When asked what she thinks about the Bivalent booster and whether students should get boosted, she says, “I respect everyone’s right to make their own decision.

My role is not to influence personal decisions but to provide credible and reliable information to assist in the decision-making process.

“I’m fully vaccinated, had COVID in May of this year, I am still gathering information on the new bivalent COVID booster since numbers are low at this time and we have time. For those who are wondering if they should get vaccinated or receive the bivalent booster, please speak with your trusted healthcare provider.”

When it comes to advise and expertise about COVID and illness on campus, Nurse Nancy has been on the frontlines since the pandemic’s beginnings. Nurse Nancy Hines has served as an R.N for over 46 years and has been at St. Ambrose since 1983.

When asked about how she felt about COVID and the pandemic when it originally hit, she said, “Like my colleagues, I had not experienced a pandemic in my professional career and didn’t know what to expect. I remember saying to a colleague that I wish her grandfather, who was a physician during the 1918 flu pandemic, was still alive to provide us insight.

“I did a lot of reading on the 1918 flu pandemic, the vaccination program in the U.S., and the COVID virus. I wanted to be informed of past and current public health responses, guidelines, recommendations, and vaccine information.

 “I felt that a total lockdown was not sustainable and supported the administration’s decision to reopen and bring students back to campus in the fall of 2020. Personal protective equipment was essential to safety and discovered that they were in short supply when ordering them in May, but we got adequate supplies by fall.”

“I’m extremely grateful to the many individuals on our campus who came together to develop and implement policies/procedures and provide services designed to provide for the well-being of our campus community.  I greatly appreciate the prompt response to my questions and concerns from our campus, local, and state public health professionals. The experience was humbling and I’m thankful I work in an environment where we supported one another.”

While the campus isn’t offering any booster shot options on campus, Nurse Nancy says students and employees who are interested in receiving a booster can receive the vaccine through local pharmacies, the Scott County Health Department, or their healthcare provider.