NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Western Mass News is your Vaccine Authority.
We are digging deeper into developing news as Smith College is now the first college in western Mass. to require students to be fully vaccinated before arriving on campus in the fall.
The decision sparked many questions from you at home about how will this work and will more schools follow suit?
It’s a topic that has become somewhat controversial across the nation, but Smith College officials said it wasn't a hard decision to make.
Western Mass News spoke with one local health expert who said while Smith College may be the first in this area to require a vaccine, they will probably not be the last.
“I actually have a vaccine appointment on the 26,” Smith College Senior Class President Jane Casey-Fleener said.
It's a hot topic around the nation, and here in western Mass., Smith College is now the first college in our area to require students to be fully vaccinated before arriving on campus in the fall.
“It’s a decision that we thought about very carefully, but I don’t think it was a difficult decision,” Smith College Director of Health and Wellness Kris Evans said.
Western Mass News got you answers on how every student will have an opportunity to get a dose and how will the college ensure every student got a shot?
Evans said they have secured enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate students on campus in a clinic planned at the end of April, a plan students say is exciting and a big relief.
“Especially for international students I think that was a big concern for them as well,” Evans said.
Students will have to upload vaccination records online before arriving on campus for the fall semester.
Western Mass News is thinking ahead, and we asked about requirements for the proposed Pfizer booster shot that health officials said may be needed in the future.
“I think we would want to follow the science on that and also follow how accessible that is for us here on campus,” Evans said.
While Smith College plans now for the fall, their decision is leaving many parents and students wondering if other local universities will follow along. Local health expert Clinton Mathias said time will tell.
“We might see both kinds of things happening with some colleges making it mandatory and others just encouraging people to get vaccinated. You want to have as many people vaccinated as possible, but the question is can you force everyone to do it,” Western New England University Associate Professor of Immunology and Pharmacology Mathias said.
The clinics for Smith students will be held on April 24 and 25. The college said students who sign up will be fully vaccinated before finals this semester. Students can opt-out for religious and medical reasons, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.