Despite lower case numbers, the importance of testing for anyone experiencing symptoms in stopping the spread of COVID-19 remains vital. As part of its ongoing commitment to serving the greater community, the Auraria Campus continues to offer free COVID-19 testing to students, faculty, staff, and the general public at the Fifth Street Garage.
“At this point we’ve given over 50,000 free tests at the Fifth Street Garage during the past year, of which approximately a third of those tests were provided to Auraria constituents,” says Steve Monaco, executive director, Health Center at Auraria.
The demand for tests fluctuates in response to rates of infection.
“During the peak of Omicron in the past month and a half, we were administering close to 3,000 tests a day,” Monaco says. “Those numbers have dropped significantly as we entered into February just like the numbers have dropped at other state testing sites. We’re now administering between 200-300 daily.”
Booster Shots Still Key to Stemming COVID-19 Community Spread
Both Auraria Campus affiliates and members of the community continue to benefit and build immunity from vaccines and boosters.
“Our downtown Denver location has enabled all our surrounding communities to access our services,” Monaco says. “The first two shots of Pfizer and Moderna are obviously important. However, when Omicron appeared the importance of a booster shot became significantly more relevant.”
Many immunizations, including the flu vaccine, don’t necessarily prevent an individual from getting sick but substantially reduce symptoms and severity. According to three recent CDC studies, the COVID booster shots were 90% effective at preventing Omicron hospitalizations and 82% effective at preventing emergency department and urgent care visits.
“Members of the Auraria Campus have worked hard to adopt a strategy for vaccine access and expectations that focuses on equity and an ethic of care for others in our community,” says Jennifer Reich, PhD, professor of sociology in CU Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who is a national expert on the issue of vaccine hesitancy. “Vaccines against COVID are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death. Even as they do not completely eliminate the risk of infection or transmission, they are an important tool in preventing the spread of disease and serious illness.”
Working to Dispel Vaccine Myths
Monaco and his staff continue to work to dispel lingering myths about vaccines. “One is that the shot is going to make me really sick,” he says, “Getting sick from COVID is much worse than any minor symptoms you may experience for 24-48 hours.”
Another mistaken belief: “People say, ‘I’m going to get it anyway so why get the vaccine?’ Yet, vaccines against COVID do reduce the risk of infection and transmission, even if it is not completely eliminated,” Monaco says. “People need to get vaccinated not only for themselves, but for everyone they come in contact with and the loved ones they want to protect.”
Reich agrees. “Some mistakenly argue that since infection is still possible, there is no point in getting a vaccine. This is a misunderstanding of what vaccines can do. Instead, we should be reminded that saving lives is an essential goal and vaccines are a tool for doing so.”
CU Denver requires that all students, faculty, and staff are up to date on their vaccines, including a booster shot. Find the latest on what you can do to protect yourself and others and support CU Denver’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 here.