Suffolk to require COVID-19 vaccine for students, faculty this fall

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James Bartlett

Suffolk’s residence hall at 1 Court St.

Suffolk University will require students and faculty to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus for the fall semester.

The university is requiring that students be fully vaccinated by Aug. 16, President Marisa Kelly said in an email sent to the Suffolk community Thursday morning. Any individual who previously contracted COVID-19 is still required to receive their vaccination.

Students and faculty who reside in the United States must receive either the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Kelly said. Vaccine documentation must be uploaded to the Student Health Portal.

From Suffolk University’s COVID-19 vaccine FAQ page.

As we look forward to greater in-person campus operations in the fall, one of the ways we can best provide a safe and healthy environment is to maximize vaccination of our population against COVID-19,” Kelly said in the email. “For this reason, the University will require students and employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before coming to campus for the fall semester.”

International students residing outside of the U.S. will be required to get a vaccine, however  the university’s vaccine FAQ page included in the email stated that Suffolk is working on a plan to ensure they can be vaccinated before next semester.

“We know COVID-19 vaccinations may not be readily available in some countries,” the website said. “Suffolk is working to develop a plan for international students to be vaccinated once in the U.S. if you are not already fully vaccinated before you arrive.”

There are medical and religious exemptions in accordance with federal and state law. If a student has a medical exemption, including those who are pregnant or lactating, they must upload documentation from a health provider. 

Students seeking a religious exemption must submit a documentation of their personal objection, written in their own voice, according to the FAQ page. The letter will not be accepted if it is written by a parent or religious authority.

Documentation for both exemptions must be uploaded to the Student Health Portal.

The mandate comes after Suffolk’s Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution encouraging the university to require students and faculty be vaccinated in time for the fall semester. The resolution was authored by senators Marissa Kearney, Stephen Merrick, Kostas Loukos and Vice President-elect Stephen Rykola.

“I believe that the vaccine mandate is a step in the right direction both for the university and the student body,” Rykola said. “Being a co-author of this resolution, I see the need for the vaccine mandate, and I am glad the university has officially taken a stance, as I do believe the vaccines are both safe and effective in defeating the virus.”

For Merrick, senator for the class of 2024, seeing the resolution passed by SGA and enacted by the administration felt like a step forward for the student body.

“I’m extremely happy to see that the administration took this step towards promoting the health and safety of our students and I’m also happy to see that they are listening to SGA and the student body when it comes to these important issues,” he said.

In the email, Kelly highlighted the Suffolk community’s efforts to combat COVID-19. 

“Our entire University community has worked incredibly hard to support our students and move forward with our essential mission in a safe and healthy environment. We will continue to do that as we head toward the fall semester and beyond,” Kelly said.

If students have further questions, they are encouraged to reach out to Suffolk’s Counseling, Health, and Wellness and read the university’s vaccine FAQ page.