UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston requires COVID vaccine for returning students


Derek Men (freshman) sits in the newly open student lounges.

On Monday afternoon, Vice Chancellors Marie Bowen for Human Resources, Gail DiSabatino for Student Affairs, and Executive Director of University Health Services Robert Pomales issued an email to the UMass Boston community, stating that the school “will require vaccinations for all UMass Boston students who are coming to campus, or physically accessing campus resources for the fall semester, and wish to live, learn and/or conduct research on campus.” 

The university is following the example of many other Massachusetts schools such as Northeastern University, Boston University, and Emerson College that are requiring their students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return physically to campus in the fall. 

Vaccine availability is rapidly opening up in the state of Massachusetts, as 16- and 17-year-olds have now become eligible for receiving the vaccine, and vaccination centers have reported many open spots. (2). Go to https://vaccinesignup.mass.gov/ to preregister for yours today.

The new rule was received positively by some students. 

Sophomore Melisa Cepeda stated, “I think it [the new rule] is super fair; we need to get a move on and vaccination is the only way of achieving that.” 

At least 25 UMass Boston students submitted to a poll that they think it is fair that UMass Boston is requiring vaccinations of returning students.

UMass Boston says that they plan to be accommodating and thoughtful with this new rule. 

The Vice Chancellors added in their Monday email that they “will accommodate medical, disability, and religious exemptions” to this new vaccine rule; good news for those who may be allergic to the shot. They also stated: “We recognize there is a list of issues we need to work through, including whether and which vaccinations received abroad will be recognized.”

Despite these statements, some students are wary of the fairness of this new policy. One student at UMass Boston, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared their opinion with the Mass Media: “I think it’s much safer to have mandated vaccines, especially for our commuter-based student body, but originally I felt like since we have an extremely diverse student body we should be mindful that people of color have valid distrust in healthcare due to a long history of previous discrimination and that there are religious and cultural traditions against the use of vaccines… I guess as long as exemptions are allowed and not too difficult to obtain I think it [the new rule] is fair.” 

Others have similar concerns. Sophomore KT Taylor wrote in, “I think [the new rule] is only fair if the school supports students in accessing vaccinations because some students live in states where rollout is slower…  International students might have the same issue.” Taylor added that a hotline or call-in service that assists students with problems like these would be “a good follow-up.”

On Thursday, Robert Pomales and Diane Pankow, Director of General Medicine, sent a follow-up email that included a link to more information about the university’s vaccine plan.

While much of the plan repeated what the past email had said, the page did provide a list of helpful vaccine-related resources for students. Most significantly on the list, University Health Services have created a vaccine FAQ for students to refer to, and a link to other immunization requirements that should not be forgotten in the wake of this pandemic. While there is no clear sign of it yet, perhaps UMass Boston will follow in the footsteps of Northeastern and implement a COVID vaccine hotline and email. 

Regardless, the science is clear: Getting your shot is safe and will protect you from the virus that has caused a global pandemic—so don’t hesitate!