WESTFIELD — Nearly one-third of Westfield State employees remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 as the Oct. 15 deadline to be fully vaccinated quickly approaches.
Approximately 290 of Westfield State’s 928 employees have just days to reach full vaccination status unless they have a legitimate medical or religious exemption. Westfield State Chief of Staff Tricia M. Oliver said that employees who remain unvaccinated past Oct. 15 will not be permitted to work or access the campus.
“Once vacation leave is exhausted, employees will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence and will be subject to discipline or other adverse action, consistent with an employee’s applicable labor agreement,” said Oliver.
By contrast, the Westfield State student population has a vaccination rate of 94 percent as of Oct. 8. The total student population is 4,274. Students were also required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they returned to campus for the fall semester, barring religious or medical exemptions.
Different groups of university employees were given different deadlines to receive their COVID-19 vaccines, but the final deadline for all employees is Oct. 15. Though their vaccination rate of 69 percent is low compared to that of students at Westfield State, there are signs that some employees have been getting their vaccines at the last minute. On Oct. 1, the university reported an employee vaccination rate of 55.8 percent, meaning that approximately 120 employees became fully vaccinated between Oct. 1 and Oct. 8.
Those who are unvaccinated have had to participate in a weekly testing program for COVID-19. So far, 1,589 tests have been administered to students and employees. Twenty-six students and just one employee have tested positive so far this year. Two students on campus tested positive between Oct. 1 and 8.