MAINE, USA — The University of Maine System (UMS) announced Monday that vaccinated, asymptomatic people are exempt from quarantine requirements even if they come into close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.
An individual is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving a Johnson & Johnson shot or 14 days after their second Pfizer or Moderna shot.
This policy change follows consultation with state public health officials.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director (CDC) Dr. Nirav Shah reiterated the news as part of a message encouraging vaccination in a “This is Our Shot, Maine” video produced by the University of Southern Maine.
"This we do hope will be one piece of the sweet encouragements that we are offering to folks to say please be vaccinated, please do what you can do to keep your community and yourself safe," said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, president of UMaine and its regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias.
"The feedback I get from students is that it's a pretty isolating experience for them," said Lisa Belanger, the director of Health Service for the University of Southern Maine.
Students like junior Emily Colby say managing her student-athlete life on campus has been tough.
"As a track and field athlete its really important to get in and maintain that level of athleticism every day and I wasn't able to do that and it did set me back," said Colby.
The University of Maine System’s Together for Maine public safety initiative includes weekly asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 for all students, faculty, and staff participating in on-campus experiences this semester, and contact tracing to isolate infected individuals. UMS universities maintain 529 units of quarantine space to support individuals found to be close contacts as defined by public health authorities.
"We do not have a plan to mandate vaccine because of the emergency use authorization, we know that other universities are beginning to make plans about what they will require relative to vaccine, but at this stage that is not our plan," added Ferrini-Mundy.
As part of the vaccination campaign, the UMS Science Advisory Board and the Vaccine Planning and Partnership Task Force are surveying students, faculty, and staff to assess vaccination plans and determine how best to provide information and educational materials to members of the community.
According to the task force, nearly three-quarters of the 4,200 respondents to the survey have been or plan to get vaccinated, including 75% percent responding UMaine students.
The University of Maine System and the Vaccination Planning and Partnership Task Force are constantly monitoring developments with the vaccines currently in use under the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization approval process.
UMS is encouraging but not requiring vaccination at this time.
The University of Maine System consists of six universities: The University of Maine (UMaine), including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias (UMM); the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA); the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF); the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI); and the University of Southern Maine (USM). The System also includes the University of Maine School of Law and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.