The University System of Maryland announced all students living on-campus next semester will be required to receive a booster shot for the COVID-19 vaccine in a statement Friday.

Students who were exempt from the initial COVID-19 vaccine mandate won’t be required to get a booster, according to the announcement.

The Omicron variant has caused cases to soar nationwide, with Maryland reporting a 26 percent positivity rate on New Year’s Day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that a booster shot and initial vaccine doses provide the best protection against the coronavirus. Data shows that boosters offer additional protection by reducing symptom severity, including in cases of infection from the Omicron variant, the statement said.

“We recognize that individuals in congregate housing are at the greatest risk for contracting the coronavirus, particularly the highly transmissible Omicron variant,” the announcement said.

[More than 10 percent of UMD winter classes set to be at least partially in person]

The statement additionally said available vaccines shorten the time of illness and infectiousness, as well as transmission rates and spread in settings such as congregate housing.

Institutions will share details for students living on-campus about deadlines for the booster shot and how to verify their vaccination status. They will also share information on COVID-19 protocols for the entire campus community, according to the announcement.

The system encourages all students, faculty and staff to get a booster as soon as they’re eligible, the statement said.

The statement also said the system will continue to look at coronavirus data and policy developments with the help of public health experts to guide their decisions for the spring 2022 semester.