Despite dropping its mandate, the Maine Community College System “strongly” encourages all students to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Eastern Maine Community College's welcome sign. Credit: Caitlin Rogers / BDN

The Maine Community College System will no longer require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The system’s board of trustees unanimously approved the recommendation from President David Daigler during a Wednesday meeting.

Despite dropping its mandate, the system “strongly” encourages all students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Some students may still be required to be vaccinated as part of certain programs or as required at off-campus sites.

“It’s been three full years since the pandemic began, and the situation has changed since we initiated this vaccination protocol,” Daigler said. “It’s time to change our approach by ending the requirement and focusing on wellness education programs.”

The system’s seven campuses will instead focus on expanding education aimed at mitigating the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. 

“This was not an easy decision because we don’t want to send a signal that our community doesn’t need to take any COVID-19 preventative measures. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Daigler said. “The health and safety of our community remains our top priority, but requiring students to have the vaccine is no longer a primary way to accomplish that.”

The community college system first mandated COVID-19 vaccines in August 2021 when the delta variant drove sharp spikes in infections across the state. That came a month after the system said it had no plans to mandate vaccines.

A number of other universities across the state moved to mandate COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, including the University of Maine System, Bates College in Lewiston, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Colby College in Waterville, the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Husson University in Bangor, the Maine College of Art in Portland, St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Unity College and the University of New England in Biddeford.