Area colleges address COVID-19 vaccine booster requirements for spring semester

Western Mass News is getting answers about COVID-19 booster mandates.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 10:13 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Western Mass News is getting answers about COVID-19 booster mandates. After we saw that some universities in the eastern Massachusetts were requiring the new COVID-19 booster shot for its students for the upcoming spring semester, we wanted to know if local colleges were mandating the shot as well.

Harvard and Tufts Universities are requiring their students to be up to date on the latest bivalent omicron-specific COVID-19 booster shot.

We checked in with colleges in western Massachusetts to see if they’ll follow suit. We learned that Hampshire College is requiring all students and staff to get the bivalent booster unless they have an approved exemption. Meanwhile, Holyoke Community College told us they have no plans to require booster shots for the spring.

Smith College has not yet announced its plans for the spring semester and said it will continue to monitor local conditions and public health advice to update its COVID-19 policy. Bay Path University is requiring both COVID-19 shots and one booster. They told us, in part:

“For the spring semester, we will still require all students, faculty and staff to adhere to that policy.  However, we strongly recommend additional boosters to those who are eligible or choose to do so.”

American International College told Western Mass News that their current policy required the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and they are strongly recommending people to receive their COVID-19 boosters. AIC’s Director of Health Services Kaelly Ryan told us what went in to making this decision.

“Currently, the COVID-19 vaccines is not a state mandated vaccine. We are following state guidance and strongly recommending the COVID booters because they are great at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19,” Ryan explained.

Ryan told us COVID-19 numbers have remained down on-campus, but they can expect to see an increase in respiratory infections this winter, so they are encouraging people to get their flu and COVID-19 shots when eligible. She added that AIC has an on-campus COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

Western Mass News also learned that Western New England University does not require proof of a second booster, UMass Amherst strongly recommends booster shots, but they aren’t required, and Springfield College is not requiring the booster, but encourages it.