More than three years after Massachusetts first declared a COVID-19 public health emergency, new Governor Maura Healey will end the state’s modified public health emergency, effective May 11. That same day, the Healey administration will also lift the vaccine mandate for tens of thousands of executive branch workers across the Commonwealth.
Former Governor Charlie Baker issued the original State of Emergency on March 10, 2020, then issued the existing modified public health emergency in May of 2021, while lifting the original state of emergency on June 15th of that year.
According to Healey’s office, some public workers in “certain roles and settings” will remain subject to the mandate due to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services regulations.
Here in Lowell, vaccine mandates were never issued by then City Manager Eileen Donahue or by Schools Superintendent Dr. Joel Boyd, despite pressure on them to do so. Both administrations encouraged vaccination and distributed information about where/when they could receive a vaccine or booster, but never made it a requirement for staff, and in the case of the schools, students. The same held true for the Lowell Police and Fire Departments.
On the other hand, UMass Lowell did, and does still require all students and employees who live, learn, work or conduct research on campus, access campus resources, or participate in campus events be vaccinated for COVID-19 with a complete initial vaccine series. The university also highly recommends COVID-19 boosters for all eligible students and employees. Requests for medical and religious exemptions are evaluated upon request.