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Thomas College joins growing ranks of Maine schools mandating COVID-19 vaccines

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Thomas College has become the latest Maine university to mandate COVID-19 vaccines before this fall’s semester begins.

The Waterville college was one of the last Maine higher education institutions to reveal its vaccine policy, and it means that nearly all college students, staff and faculty will need to be vaccinated this fall.

In announcing the change Wednesday, Thomas College President Laurie G. Lachance said “we simply have no choice” but to mandate vaccines given the summer surge in virus transmission largely among the state’s unvaccinated population.

“If we are to end this pandemic, we must do everything in our power to be nimble and make choices that protect each other the best that we can with the information at our disposal,” Lachance said.

Any students who attend classes on the Waterville campus must be partially or fully vaccinated and submit proof of vaccination to the college’s health center by Aug. 31. Students will be required to mask indoors and be tested routinely for COVID-19 until fully vaccinated. All vaccine doses must be administered by Sept. 30, according to the college.

Similarly, faculty and staff must be partially or fully vaccinated and submit proof of vaccination by Aug. 31. They will also be required to mask indoors and be tested routinely for COVID-19 until fully vaccinated, with their last dose administered no later than Sept. 30.

Limited exemptions from the vaccine requirement will be allowed.

This follows last week’s announcement that the University of Maine System will manThis follows last week’s announcement that the University of Maine System will mandate COVID-19 vaccines at its seven universities this fall. Most higher education institutions in Maine have mandated vaccines for the fall, including Bates College in Lewiston, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Colby College in Waterville, the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Husson University in Bangor, the Maine College of Art in Portland, St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Unity College and the University of New England in Biddeford.

Still, a handful of higher education institutions across the state have opted not to require vaccines this fall. The Maine Community College System said last month it will not require students, staff and faculty at its seven campuses to be vaccinated against COVID-19, regardless of whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration makes its authorization for the vaccines permanent. Beal College in Bangor also isn’t requiring COVID-19 vaccines, but the private school said it offers most classes online and has no student housing.

A message left with a spokesperson for Maine Maritime Academy in Castine inquiring into its vaccine policy wasn’t immediately returned.

This content was originally published here.

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