Brown will no longer require COVID-19 vaccination for students, staff, faculty and visitors beginning June 1, according to a Thursday announcement sent in a campus-wide email.
Students at the Warren Alpert Medical School or in the Gateways Program and Program in Liberal Medical Education will still be required to obtain the initial vaccine series and a booster prior to matriculation because they “spend a significant amount of time in clinical settings where full vaccination continues to be required.”
The vaccination requirement will expire for medical school staff and for faculty not otherwise governed by requirements for clinical affiliations, such as Brown’s affiliated hospitals, University Spokesperson Brian Clark wrote in an email to The Herald.
The University continues to “strongly recommend” community members obtain and remain up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the announcement from Vice President for Human Resources Marie Williams, Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes and Vanessa Britto MSc’96, associate vice president for campus life and executive director for health and wellness.
Changes to vaccination requirements “align with guidance” from the CDC and the Rhode Island Department of Health, according to the announcement.
The CDC no longer recommends monovalent COVID-19 vaccines, or the initial vaccine series, according to an April 19 press release. The CDC continues to recommend the bivalent vaccine for individuals six years or older.
The announcement also notes that the end of the requirement comes as the federal Public Health Emergency expires at the end of the day Thursday — and shortly after the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 is no longer a “public health emergency of international concern.”
The WHO cited the decline of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 as well as high levels of population immunity to the virus as motivation for the change — points that Brown’s announcement partially echoed Thursday.
“Because everyone's health situation is different — based on a combination of past exposure and their booster schedule — a policy of universal vaccination no longer offers the same benefits it did early in the pandemic,” the announcement reads.
Masks will remain optional on campus, except where faculty, staff or clinicians require masks. Beginning June 1, the mask-optional policy will also extend to the Health & Wellness Center, which previously required all individuals to mask during appointments. The University still recommends that students who were recently exposed to COVID-19, are not up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations or who have respiratory symptoms continue masking in the Health & Wellness Center.
The announcement also encouraged community members to “maintain a personal supply of masks and tests,” noting that the supplies are available at “local markets and pharmacies.”
According to Clark, the University expects to maintain a “limited supply of masks available to students” available for pickup at the Key Office in Graduate Center E but encourages students to come to campus with their own supply of tests in the fall.
The announcement added that Brown will “continue to support students in accessing vaccinations.” This will include providing free booster clinics on campus “periodically” in the coming semesters depending on the level of supply and student demand, according to Clark. The last booster and flu clinic was held on Feb. 22.
5/13: This article was updated to include additional information from a University spokesperson and information about peer institutions.
Haley Sandlow is a section editor covering science and research as well as admissions and financial aid. She is a sophomore from Chicago, Illinois studying English and French.