The University of Maine system will require all of its students going to campus to receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if the United States Food and Drug Administration does not approve a general-use vaccine before the start of semester. fall, said spokesperson Dan Demeritt. Wednesday.
Under the previous policy, unvaccinated students could visit campus if they wore masks inside college buildings and were tested for COVID-19 twice a week. These students will now need to be vaccinated or not participate in campus activities, including in-person classes.
Cases have grown rapidly in Maine and across the country since the system announced its previous policy on July 16. University officials feared disruption that could be caused by the spread of the delta variant among students and staff and said the change was needed to preserve the public. health on campuses and their surrounding communities.
“This policy change is due to the delta,” University of Maine system chancellor Dannel Malloy said on Wednesday. âWe didn’t think about it a month ago.
More than 10,300 students and university staff, including 69 percent full-time employees and around 40 percent students, said they were vaccinated on the university portal. Officials expect that number to increase dramatically with this requirement and suspect more people are vaccinated but have yet to report it to the university.
Partially vaccinated students will need to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week and wear a mask inside university buildings for up to two weeks after receiving the vaccine in a single Johnson & Johnson injection or their second injection from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
All students must prove to the university that they have received at least one injection of the COVID-19 vaccine by August 20, 10 days before the start of classes, if they wish to participate in student activities on campus. University officials are currently in talks with labor organizations to demand the same for staff and faculty members.
Students may be granted exemptions from the requirement because of religious beliefs or a health condition that would prevent them from getting the vaccine, Demeritt said.
The policy change is due to the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 across the country, which has increased hospitalizations from the virus nationwide. The general FDA clearance of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been expected sometimes in the fall. However, experts did not expect this to happen until classes began at colleges in the University of Maine system on August 30.
With hesitation particularly high in rural areas, various incentives and marketing campaigns have already started at the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the presidents of those colleges said on Wednesday. The president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Ray Rice, said he had seen the number of vaccines increase in recent weeks.
As of July 26, students and staff who have verified their immunization status are no longer required to wear masks inside university buildings.
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