The University of New England. Credit: CBS 13

The University of New England will require students and staff at its campuses to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the fall semester.

That follows the lead of other Maine universities, including Bowdoin College in Brunswick and the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, that have mandated vaccination for students and staff before returning to campus this fall.

Maine’s public university system isn’t mandating COVID-19 vaccination because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only authorized the vaccines for emergency use, a position echoed at other universities across the country. But fully vaccinated students will be exempt from COVID-19 testing and quarantining at the University of Maine System’s seven campuses.

The University of New England will grant nonmedical exemptions for students, except for those in certain clinical and academic programs. But those students granted an exemption will be required to wear face coverings on campus.

“As vaccines become increasingly available, we can all envision how this incredible scientific advancement will allow us to return to the normal UNE activities on our campuses we all miss so much,” the Biddeford university’s president, James Herbert, said Wednesday.

The university will hold vaccine clinics for students and staff in the coming weeks, including from Wednesday to Friday this week.

Some restrictions may remain in place this fall even with the vaccine mandate as the university moves to return to full occupancy in classrooms, residence halls and labs.

“I have been especially saddened by what our students have lost, and I am eager to restore the full and vibrant experience of a UNE education as soon as possible,” Herbert said. “I encourage all students, faculty, and professional staff to take advantage of the many vaccination opportunities here in Maine or in their home state as soon as possible.”