NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC community prepares for vaccine mandate

The presidents of the 15 Massachusetts Community Colleges recently announced there will be a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate going into effect this upcoming January. The mandate states that all students, staff and faculty members must be fully vaccinated before coming on campus.

While this may be controversial, NECC is still taking precautions to protect against COVID-19 and will continue to do so as the new year begins.

Along with supplying masks and sanitizer and installing plexiglass barriers, our school has taken further extensive measures to fight the virus.

The school now offers fit testing for N-95 respirator masks which gives hands-on instructions on how to properly wear the device and 96 air scrubbers with the highest level MERV filters and HEPA filtration have also been stationed in high traffic areas to maintain clean and pure air quality.

NECC has partnered with Greater Lawrence Family Health Center to provide vaccinations to the community. Vaccine clinic pop-ups are occasionally held on campus, both in Haverhill and Lawrence, to make getting the vaccine easily accessible. There will be a vaccine clinic on the Lawrence campus from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 27 in the Dimitry building lobby and from 9 a.m. to noon in the D building on the Haverhill campus on Oct. 29.

Vaccines are also available at local community centers, pharmacies and doctor’s offices.

NECC has also put together a selection of public health officials, student and academic leaders to form the NECC Covid Response Team. Their goal is to inform, encourage and provide services for students, staff and faculty members who are interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine. They aim to be ahead of the curve of public health and government guidelines to sustain a healthy and happy community.

In an interview with the Chairwoman of the NECC Covid Response Team, Marissa Elliot, she states “We [NECC officials] are not allowed to be more liberal than Department of Public Health requirements but we can and often are more conservative if, in consultation with our internal experts, we deem it necessary to take additional steps to protect the safety and well being of the college community.”

While some members of the community support the new vaccine mandate, there are a handful who are in opposition of the decision.

In an interview with Leiliana Igartua, NECC student, she states “Yes we are told that it [the COVID-19 vaccine] is helping us but in my eyes people are still dying, including those who have received the vaccine. I think that it is our bodies and we shouldn’t have to do anything we don’t want to. We don’t know enough about this virus yet to have a vaccine for it.”

Although NECC considers logging contact data a considerable measure, some students feel uneasy about the QR codes located around campus which keeps a record of where students go on campus and when.

Igartua also says “I understand the purpose of it, but you also can’t tell who’s actually using them and when they stop tracking you.”

Joining colleges and universities across the country, NECC has enrolled in the White House COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. Participating schools are dedicated to following three steps; engaging all students, staff and faculty members in the fight against this persistent virus, organizing campus communities around vaccine efforts, and delivering vaccine access for all.

The details of how NECC will be enforcing the new vaccine mandate is not yet known.