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UMass Amherst Approves More Than 400 Students For COVID-19 Vaccine Exemptions

The campus of UMass Amherst.
The Republican / Masslive
The campus of UMass Amherst.

Many western Massachusetts colleges and universities are requiring students be vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to campus, but they are offering exemptions.

UMass Amherst, Williams and Amherst College said the vast majority of their students have gotten the shots.

UMass said it's provided religious and medical exemptions to more than 400 students. Williams College has 16 requests for exemptions, but hasn't approved them yet. Amherst College said it's approved fewer than 20.

Mount Holyoke College said a total of 23 exemptions had been granted, a number the school said included students, faculty and staff.

Hampshire College declined to provide information on student exemptions. A spokeswoman for Smith College said its data isn't complete. 

The institutions said some international students have been unable to get vaccinated in their home countries. The schools will help them do so when they arrive stateside.

Westfield State University, which is also requiring the vaccine along with other state universities and colleges, has not yet provided a number of exemptions.

Massachusetts community colleges don't have a vaccine requirement.

In April, the presidents of the fifteen institutions announced that while they strongly urge students to get vaccinated, they would not mandate it because of concerns about disproportionate access.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education, and politics. Working with correspondent Morley Safer, he reported from locations across the United States as well as from India, Costa Rica, Italy, and Iraq.
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