URI, Johnson & Wales latest to mandate COVID booster shots for students, employees

Updated at 4:52 p.m.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island and Johnson & Wales University are the latest colleges in the state to mandate COVID-19 booster shots for all students and employees before the start of the spring semester.

URI is the first state-run college to issue such a mandate after initially recommending students and employees to get their booster shots. Brown University and Salve Regina University announced their mandates last week.

Most other local colleges, including the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and Providence College, are currently strongly recommending their respective campus communities to get boosters.

URI said late Monday that students and employees who are eligible to get boosters – six months after second doses from Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine – by the first day of classes on Jan. 24. JWU, meanwhile, is setting a March 1 deadline for students and employees to get their boosters. However, JWU is encouraging eligible people to get their boosters before the start of the spring semester.

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Those not yet eligible will have 30 days after eligibility to get boosted, both URI and JWU said.

JWU will host vaccine booster clinics on campus on Jan. 11 and Jan. 13 in the Delaney Gym at the Harborside Wildcat Center for those unable to get boosters before returning to campus. URI is recommending its campus community to get vaccinated at local pharmacies or through the state. Students and employees at URI are also to provide the university their updated vaccine records via URI’s online portal.

Those exempt from vaccines are not required to get boosters, both URI and JWU said. However, URI said exempted persons must be tested twice per week or risk discipline from the university, including being suspended from URI.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

(UPDATES throughout to add detail from JWU.)