By Kait Bedell – News Editor
The COVID-19 vaccine will be required for all students attending in the fall of 2021. The news was announced in an email from President Michael Alexander on April 14.
The decision comes following a separate announcement made via email by President Alexander that the university is anticipating operating as normal in the next semester.
“Our common goal is to try to return to pre-COVID campus culture as much as possible,” Health Services Director Richard Arnold said. “As we added vaccines to this picture, we realized that frankly, that’s gonna be the only path that we see currently to achieve a relatively pre-COVID atmosphere.”
According to Arnold, the university’s hope is to reach a high enough herd immunity to be able to allow students to socialize without masks and social distancing at full capacity again.
“So far everything we know at this point is: in the case that we reach herd immunity through the vaccine or cases of infection, we have a chance of returning to a relatively normal lifestyle on campus,” Arnold said. “That could change but I hope that it doesn’t—I really do.”
Freshman Riley Bird said she is relieved that the vaccine will be mandated in the fall and that she thinks it will be good for the community.
“I think the mandate is the safest and smartest thing to do,” Bird said. “We’re all looking to get back to some kind of normalcy and I think this is our best shot at getting that soon.”
While herd immunity is a priority, Alexander’s April 14 emails states the university is offering medical and religious exemptions.
Although some students have expressed to Arnold they are concerned about the unknown long-term effects that the vaccine could have, he said he is confident that the vaccine is safe and Lasell would not make this decision if it was not.
“There are increasing numbers of individuals that have been infected that are having long-term health problems related to being infected,” Arnold said. “My rationale is that I’d much rather be vaccinated knowing what we know than contract COVID.”
Arnold said the risks of complications after receiving the vaccine are significantly smaller than the consequences of contracting COVID-19 or not being able to live life normally.
“You have to think about the flip side,” Arnold said. “If we don’t achieve herd immunity, we’re looking at a continuation of how we’re living now.”
President Alexander said that Lasell has had low infection rates and that the university will rely on the students and faculty to continue to cooperate.
“Lasell turned out to be one of the safest places to be so we want to continue that,” Alexander said. “We’re determined to continue that and the way to do it is to get nearly everybody on campus vaccinated.”
Alexander and Arnold both said the Lasell community has done a good job of following the COVID-19 regulations implemented; and that the staff and student body’s continued efforts will help to return to normal.
“The students, employees and everybody on campus did a great job of following the protocols and making sure other people followed protocols,” Alexander said. “That really worked and it needs to continue to work.”
Students and staff looking to sign up for a vaccine appointment can register for one through Keyes Drug which is located at 2090 Commonwealth Ave or through the state of Massachusetts directly.