COVID vaccine mandate ending at UMass as state stands down from emergency 

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 05-07-2023 1:24 PM

AMHERST — A mandate for students, faculty and staff at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is ending.

“Effective July 1, 2023, the university will no longer require faculty, staff and students to receive a COVID-19 vaccination,” Public Health Director Ann Becker and Jeffrey Hescock, executive director of environmental health and safety, wrote in a recent email to the campus community.

Becker and Hescock, who co-direct the Public Health Promotion Center, cite Gov. Maura Healey’s announcement that the state’s COVID-19 public health emergency will end on May 11. That coincides with the end of the federal public health emergency.

Earlier in April, Amherst College dropped its requirement of the COVID-19 vaccine for community members. Smith College is still requiring those on campus to be up to date with vaccinations, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Mount Holyoke College also has in place requirements that all employees and students receive a primary COVID-19 vaccination series and one booster for the 2022-2023 academic year, while at Hampshire College all students and employees must receive all doses in a primary COVID-19 vaccine series, plus a booster when eligible.

Even with COVID-19 vaccinations no longer required at UMass, there will remain a recommendation to get boosters when the opportunity arises.

“The Public Health Promotion Center strongly recommends that members of the campus community get vaccinated with the COVID-19 booster when they are eligible,” Hescock and Becker wrote.

As part of this initiative, COVID-19 vaccine clinics will continue to be held on campus throughout the year. In addition, faculty and students who participate in clinical settings where the vaccine is required will need to follow those agencies’ vaccine requirements.

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The letter notes that the public health update reflects an alignment of university policies and protocols with those of the federal CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“We thank everyone for pulling together and supporting health, safety and well-being across our university community,” they wrote.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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