UMass Amherst announces booster requirement for spring semester

The logo of UMass Amherst.

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy sent an email out to students announcing that the COVID-19 booster shot would be required for all students prior to the start of the spring semester. Several other universities in the area have adopted this policy, and many Boston area colleges are considering implementing this measure. As of Thursday, Dec. 9, it is unknown if UMass Boston will adopt the policy of requiring students to receive booster shots before the spring semester.

“Our goal is to provide a safe and robust student experience upon our return to campus in the spring,” read Chancellor Subbaswamy’s email. “In accordance with the existing requirement that students be fully immunized against COVID-19, all students will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.” 

Students at UMass Amherst will also be required to be tested for COVID-19 10 to 14 days before the spring semester begins. Students may mail-in their test, receive a test in person at the campus’ Public Health Promotion Center, or receive a test at a Stop the Spread location.  

Though students may be tested on campus over winter break, vaccine appointments at UMass Amherst’s PHPC are fully booked for the remainder of semester. Testing will start up again in January, and students were encouraged to visit the UMass Amherst vaccine website to book an appointment in 2022. 

When asked her opinion regarding the requirement of the booster shot, a UMass Amherst student responded favorably.

“I definitely think it’s a good idea, and I’m glad that they’re requiring it and also offering the shots so it’s easily accessible,” said UMass Amherst senior Audra Dankwardt via online messaging.

This measure affects all UMass Amherst students, except those with medical or religious exemptions; roughly a few hundred students are exempt, as the university has a vaccination rate of more than 97 percent between students and faculty. 

“Individuals who were previously granted exemptions from vaccinations for medical or religious reasons will continue to be required to test twice weekly during the spring semester,” reads Chancellor Subbaswamy’s email. 

UMass Amherst will also continue to require masks and face coverings while students are indoors, though this measure will be reevaluated as the semester progresses.

In addition to UMass Amherst, nearby institutions Hampshire College and Smith College will also be requiring booster shots and face coverings for their students in the coming spring semester. Syracuse University in New York, The University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and Wesleyan University in Connecticut have also instated booster shot requirements as well.

Boston 25 News reached out to 12 Boston area higher education institutions regarding their plans to require booster shots. According to the news outlet, Simmons University and Boston College are both already considering this measure. 

The CDC currently recommends a booster dose of the vaccine for all individuals aged 18 or older. Individuals who received the Pfizer or Moderna booster are eligible for a booster shot six months after their first COVID-19 vaccination series. Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for the booster two months after their initial shot.  

University Health Services will offer booster doses of the Moderna vaccine from Dec. 9 to Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Quinn Building on the second floor. To sign up for an appointment, visit https://www.umb.edu/healthservices/my_health_beacon_portal.

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