By Nick Pantages
In an email to all students and staff on Feb. 16, Springfield College announced that the mandatory requirement for the COVID vaccine has been lifted. The new policy will become effective May 15, following the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony.
Health Center director Kathleen Hogan-Soltys said this decision was due to various factors based on what the CDC and American College Health Association have recommended.
“[The CDC and ACHA] have found that the majority of people aged 18 to 25, when they get COVID, it is typically a mild illness,” Hogan-Soltys said. “There is no mortality or even morbidity associated with it.”
Springfield has mainly followed the recommendations by the CDC and ACHA to guide the school through this process, although Hogan-Soltys said that Springfield took extra precautions.
“A lot of colleges and universities actually lifted [the mandate] for this past fall semester, but we wanted to be a little more safe,” she said.
These two main factors led the school to be comfortable with the decision. However, the Health Center does not foresee much change in the number of students vaccinated.
“Many potential incoming or transfer students have already received the vaccine, and although it is not mandated, we are still highly recommending it,” Hogan-Soltys said.
Although prospective students will not require it, past schooling or work experience may have caused them to receive the vaccine, which is why Hogan-Soltys believes that the number of students who are vaccinated will not change.
“A high percentage of our campus chooses to electively get [the vaccine], and then also with natural inheritance and herd immunity,” Hogan-Soltys said, but also noted that “people that have higher risk are still encouraged to stay up to date on their vaccine.”
As of now, Hogan-Soltys says that it is impossible to predict whether the vaccine mandate could return. Due to the fact that COVID is a constantly-evolving virus, and with every new variant, limiting the spread is almost useless. “COVID is just something that we have to live with now,” she said.
The main concern for the staff of the Health Center is the safety of the students on campus, as it always is.
“The decision was based on what they know now,” Hogan-Soltys said. “That is that younger people under 50 do not get COVID as a severe disease, and more of a common cold or a case of the flu.”