Students at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, and at other community college locations across the state, will no longer be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

SOUTH PORTLAND — Maine’s community college system has ended a requirement that on-campus students received the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Maine Community College System’s board ended the requirement and change is effective immediately, the system said in a Wednesday statement.

Maine Community College System president David Daigler said high vaccination rates in the state and improved outcomes for people who contract COVID-19 played a role in the decision. Better access to a broader range of preventative and treatment options for COVID-19 also played a role, he said.

The board’s vote was unanimous. It also adopted language “to strongly encourage all learners to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters,” the system said in a statement.

One exception to the new rule is that students in some programs might be required to receive the vaccine due to requirements at third-party locations, the system said.

The system includes seven colleges and about 25,000 students.

The University of Maine is not yet ready to drop its mandate, the chancellor said Wednesday.

Currently 98% of total students in classrooms in the University of Maine system are in compliance with its COVID vaccine guidelines.  Those guidelines permit special exceptions to remote-only students, and students with religious and medical exemptions.

“We will be watching our partners at the Community College system as they make these changes in their vaccine policies, but at this point we are not prepared to change ours,” explained UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy.  “We made a promise to our students, faculty and staff that we would keep them safe through vaccination protocols and they have, in turn, made tremendous efforts to follow those protocols.  I am extremely proud of them. Their commitment has helped us reach an outstanding compliance level.  Until the FDA and CDC change their guidelines, walking back on our promise is not something that we are willing to do.”

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