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Fall 2021 Semester COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement 

Student Message and Frequently Asked Questions

Dear Viking Students,

The Massachusetts State University system is joining a growing number of colleges and universities across the country and Commonwealth requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they attend in-person classes this fall. Prior to the beginning of the fall semester and following state, federal and legal guidance, the Massachusetts State Universities will require all students to be fully immunized before returning to campus. 

This requires undergraduate and graduate students who are attending in-person classes, conducting research on campus, living in residence halls, or participating in campus life activities to become fully inoculated with an FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccine prior to the start of the 2021 academic year. The state university presidents expect that all employees will also be fully vaccinated prior to the start of the fall semester.  

At Salem State, we are eager to return to a more traditional campus experience that includes primarily in-person classes, more in-person gatherings, multiple-occupancy rooms in our residence halls, athletics competitions, and more. We also want to be part of the solution to ending this pandemic, just as our campus has played a meaningful role in containing the virus’s spread.

We realize this announcement may prompt questions and have created an FAQ, which is available below. It will be updated as more information becomes available. 

You have been truly remarkable in helping to keep our COVID-19 case count on campus relatively low, and we remain grateful for your commitment to the health and safety of our community. Thank you for your continued cooperation to protect yourself and your fellow Vikings. 


Elisa Castillo, PhD, associate dean of students for wellness
Gene Labonte, associate vice president for public safety and risk management

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated? 

For the Pfizer or Moderna, you are fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose. For the J&J vaccine, you are fully vaccinated two weeks after the single dose. If these requirements are not met, you are not considered fully vaccinated. Students should plan to be fully vaccinated before arriving on campus for the fall semester. Those not in compliance will be unable to move in or take part in in-person learning and other in-person activities. 

Where can I receive a COVID-19 vaccine? 

The city of Salem is hosting a regional vaccination site at Salem State University’s O’Keefe Center. We are reserving vaccine appointments exclusively for Salem State students, faculty and staff to make getting vaccinated as easy and accessible as possible for you. If you have not received your COVID-19 vaccine already, we encourage you to sign up for your vaccine appointment at Salem State’s O’Keefe Center using this link.  Further details about the vaccination clinic are available from the city of Salem here.

While students are required to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus for the fall semester, you are not required to receive your vaccine on our campus. Below are additional resources if the O’Keefe Center is not a convenient location for you.

How will I provide proof that I am fully vaccinated?  

You should receive a vaccination card that indicates which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it. Please take a picture of your card and upload it to the student health portal

What if I am already vaccinated?

At this time, all fully vaccinated individuals who plan to be on campus must continue to adhere to public health protocols related to masks, physical distancing, gathering limitations, weekly COVID-19 testing, staying home when sick (daily CoVerified symptom reporting), quarantine/isolation, and others. 

Now that all students will be vaccinated before the start of the next academic year, some of our campus health and safety protocols will be updated for the fall semester. We will be able to share the new protocols this August before the fall semester begins. Salem State will continue to follow the state guidance and safety standards.

New students: New students are required to adhere to traditional immunization requirements in addition to this COVID-19 requirement. If you are a new student and need additional immunizations to meet the new student immunization requirements (other than COVID-19), you will need to wait at least 14 days after completing your COVID-19 vaccine series to get those vaccines. You are not able to get a different vaccine or immunization within 14 days of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Read new student immunization details.

International COVID vaccines: Vaccines that were received outside of the United States and have not yet been authorized by the FDA will be reviewed and accepted following the CDC and state public health guidance. Students who are not residents of Massachusetts but will be in Massachusetts for school have access to the COVID-19 vaccine here. 

What will public safety protocols be on campus this fall semester? 

The university will continue to follow city and state public health and safety guidelines. We anticipate that we will still be wearing masks in public spaces this fall, and physical distancing requirements and restrictions on gathering sizes are possible. It is also likely that we will still need to participate in asymptomatic and symptomatic testing. However, we do anticipate that with a vaccinated population on campus, we will be able to ease some of the current restrictions and protocols. Our health and safety protocols for the fall semester will be announced in August. 

Where can I direct questions about the vaccine as it relates to my health? 

For the most up to date, evidence-based information about the vaccines, please refer to the CDC guidance. If you have questions about how the vaccine relates to your health, please contact your primary care provider or counseling and health services at 978.542.6413. 

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