A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that several unvaccinated students led a COVID-19 outbreak at the University of Chicago (UC) after spring break.
Among the 140 infected students interviewed, only 19 (1.9 percent) were fully vaccinated against the virus. Meanwhile, around 93 (66.4 percent) COVID-positive students were unvaccinated, and 43 (30.7 percent) said they were partially vaccinated.
The health agency also found that 89 of these students traveled outside of Chicago during the break. They took vacations in seven countries and 23 US states, including California, Colorado, Florida, and New York.
Furthermore, the report revealed that 57 infected undergraduate students attended unmasked indoor social gatherings such as a dinner or party before classes resumed.
According to the CDC, the out-of-state trips and unmasked activities attended by UC students were most likely how they contracted the virus. The report also noted that the outbreak may have occurred because 72 percent of infected students lived in dormitories on campus.
The CDC believes that there is significant potential for COVID-19 outbreaks following out-of-state travel or large indoor gatherings during breaks.
The agency emphasized the need for colleges to encourage vaccination for all students and employees before attending in-person classes. “Vaccination is the leading prevention strategy to protect persons from COVID-19,” the report said.
In case not all students are convinced to receive COVID-19 shots, the CDC said institutions must encourage unvaccinated students to refrain from travel and always wear masks, especially indoors.
Universities are also advised to conduct serial screening tests for students, faculty, and staff after breaks to prevent any other major outbreaks.