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UMass system mandating boosters for students and staff

A woman receives her second Moderna shot at the Coes Pond Village. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A woman receives her second Moderna shot at the Coes Pond Village. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

COVID-19 booster shots will become mandatory for roughly 93,000 students and staff across the University of Massachusetts campuses, officials announced Tuesday.

Each of the five UMass schools has rolled out its own requirement for boosters in recent days, and UMass President Marty Meehan said Tuesday that his office will also require its 320 employees to get a booster shot as soon as reasonably possible once enough time has passed from their original doses.

While the broad mandate is the same for the 75,000 students and 18,000 faculty and staff members in the UMass system, the mechanics will vary across each individual campus.

UMass Boston will require students currently eligible for a booster to receive the shot by Feb. 15, 2022 and other students to get boosted within two weeks of becoming eligible. UMass Lowell set a Feb. 28, 2022 deadline for currently eligible students and will give newly eligible students 30 days to get a booster shot. Already-boosted faculty, staff and students at the UMass Chan Medical School must upload documentation by Jan. 10, 2022, while newly boosted individuals will get three weeks to submit proof.

Announcements published by UMass Amherst and UMass Dartmouth did not include a specific date by which eligible students, staff and personnel must comply.

Both UMass Boston and UMass Lowell are still negotiating with employee unions about implementing a booster requirement for staff, according to Meehan's office.

In their message to the campus, UMass Amherst officials said students who remain out of compliance with the booster mandate "may have a hold placed on their account, which would prohibit them from registering for courses for the following fall semester and could lead to more restrictions, including possible withdrawal from the university." The other four UMass schools did not publish any information about possible consequences.

The booster policy builds on a vaccine mandate that had been in place across all UMass schools in the fall semester, which officials said had a "nearly 100 percent" compliance rate. Any employees who received a religious or medical exemption for the original requirement will remain exempt.

State university system leaders also announced last week that all nine of their schools will also require students and employees to receive a booster shot against COVID-19 within 30 days of becoming eligible.

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