The college “is exploring transportation options” for students to receive vaccinations at off-campus locations, Dean of Students Liz Agosto informed students in an April 8 email. Agosto stated that the college will not be able to administer vaccines on campus as it has not been allocated any vaccines by the state, and it cannot make arrangements with local distribution sites due to state policies. As of Monday morning, April 12, over 120 additional students have completed the form seeking approval to leave campus for their vaccine appointments in the coming weeks. 

The email followed Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement that the commonwealth of Massachusetts will move into Phase 3 of its vaccination process on April 19, meaning residents who are older than 16 will be eligible to receive the vaccine. To enable students to participate in the vaccine roll-out, the college has set forth guidelines for booking vaccination appointments, traveling to and from vaccination sites and behavioral conduct at appointment locations. 

Students who previously qualified for the vaccine and scheduled an appointment had trouble getting to their vaccination sites, The Student reported this week. The college is exploring the use of shuttles to transport students to vaccination sites, Director of Student Health Services Emily Jones told The Student, and more information about transportation will be sent later this week. 

Upon successfully booking a vaccination appointment, students are required to complete a form, which enables Student Affairs to approve the date and time of departure from campus for the appointment. 

“We are exploring additional transportation options to be added before April 19 that may assist with meeting more of the anticipated need,” Agosto wrote, “but please be aware that we will likely not be able to meet all transportation needs and transportation may be limited to specified locations.”

Concerning transportation accommodations, if the vaccination site is not within walking distance, students have permission to drive, borrow a car or ride with an on-campus student to the site, granted they have received permission from the college.

“The college has limited options available to students, including available college vehicles and a partnership with a local car service,” added Jones. “We have, thus far, been able to utilize those options for any student that has needed assistance.”

The college is still looking into expanding transportation options, however, and indicated that policies are dynamic and subject to change. Jones reported that “as more students become eligible for vaccine appointments, [the college] is exploring additional transportation options, including shuttles, and will work closely with students on transport.”

In her announcement, Agosto said that the college will not be able to fulfill requests made less than 72 hours before the appointment date. “If you submit a request over the weekend, you should expect to receive a response on the following Monday,” she specified.

The administration is urging students to consider move-out dates when signing up for vaccination appointments. “Exceptions will not be granted for extended stays in campus housing for the purpose of receiving a first or second vaccine dose. Students who live in another state should look to their home states for vaccine eligibility and appointments,” the email stated.

At the vaccination clinic, the college is requiring students to act in accordance with on-campus safety measures. In her directions, Agosto reminded students that “[the administration expects] students to wear their face covering, practice appropriate physical distancing and only travel to and from the appointment location.”

In the case that students are traveling out of state for vaccination, the college has created a separate form and will appoint a Student Affairs staff member to follow up with logistics and potential quarantine upon returning to campus.

Finally, Agosto reminded students to be aware of the various physical responses that accompany the vaccine. She directed students to consult Health Services if they have any concerns.

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For students seeking vaccine appointments or with other concerns, Staff Writer Ashley Chang ’23 has compiled a list of key information: 

Processes Followed by Already Vaccinated Students

Some on-campus students have already been vaccinated because of their employment status in Massachusetts or vaccine eligibility in another state. These students contacted the Office of Student Affairs and Health Services to have their departures from campus approved. They were also assisted by these departments to coordinate transportation and have quarantine space available if needed upon their return.

Students who have been vaccinated have been able to use the following transportation modes to travel to their appointment locations: 

Students who have been vaccinated have been able to use the following transportation modes to travel to their appointment locations: 

Instructions for Students Not Yet Vaccinated

The same transportation options as listed above for previously vaccinated students will continue to be available (except for the ACEMS vehicle, which has been discontinued for such transportation after March 1 to respond to on-campus calls). The college is also looking into adding other possibilities for transportation, such as shuttles. 

When your appointment is scheduled, please discuss your appointment and transportation options with Student Affairs (studentaffairs@amherst.edu) and/or Health Services (healthservice@amherst.edu). Dr. Jones and Dean Agosto stressed that the college will assist all students with their transportation needs for vaccinations. 

Regarding UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst is a public distribution site for vaccines. Because of this, on-campus students may be vaccinated at UMass Amherst, but UMass Amherst does not prioritize college students from either UMass Amherst or Amherst College over other Massachusetts residents.

Helpful Links Regarding Vaccinations and Appointments

An approved list of resources that may help you secure a vaccine appointment can be found below. Please also pre-register for the vaccine in Massachusetts at Preregister for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment | Mass.gov.

AUTHORS

Sophie Wolmer read more

Sophie is a Managing News Editor for the Amherst Student. She is double-majoring in Neuroscience and Philosophy, and considering a third major in Chemistry. Sophie is in the graduating class of 2023 and is on the Pre-Med track. When Sophie is not writing for the Student, she is running for the Amherst Varsity Cross Country and Track Teams or volunteering as a part of the college's EMS squad. Sophie is an NCAA All-American Track and Field athlete. She also loves dogs, Valentine Dining Hall's gluten free muffins and Stephen King novels.

Ashley Chang read more