Harvard Latest Massachusetts College to Announce Omicron Booster Mandate

At least five Massachussetts colleges now require the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster, and several have extended indoor mask mandates indefinitely.
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  • The CDC now recommends that millions of Americans get an updated COVID-19 booster shot targeting highly contagious omicron variants.
  • Harvard announced this week that students are now required to get the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster.
  • Harvard will host vaccine clinics on campus through Dec. 6.

Most students planning on returning to Harvard for the spring semester will be required to get a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster by Jan. 2, university officials announced this week.

Students without a religious or medical exemption who do not get the new iteration of the COVID-19 booster will not be able to register for spring 2023 courses, Harvard said.

Officials recommend students schedule their bivalent booster during the fall term while on campus, so that they are processed in time for course registration. Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) will host vaccine clinics on campus through Dec. 6, according to the Health Service's website.

If students receive their booster through HUHS, their vaccination records will automatically be updated, whereas if they venture off campus to get the booster, they have to upload additional documents to the student portal, Harvard said.

On top of receiving the booster, students are also expected to comply with all other vaccine requirements, including receiving an annual flu shot, Harvard officials said. Students must get their flu shot before Dec. 31.

Massachusetts Leads States in Booster Requirement

Harvard joins at least four other colleges in the greater Boston area now requiring the bivalent booster.

Smith College appears to be the first Massachusetts institution to announce it would require students to get the omicron vaccine booster, making the announcement in a Sept. 13 letter from President Kathleen McCartney. That letter also extended the school's indoor mask mandate indefinitely.

Tufts University followed suit on Sept. 16, announcing it would require students, staff, and faculty to get the omicron vaccine booster by Dec. 2.

Wellesley College announced an omicron booster requirement on Oct. 11., announcing that students, staff, and faculty were required to upload proof of vaccination by Dec. 1.

Hampshire College is also mandating students get the omicron booster and extending its indoor mask mandate indefinitely.