BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The University System of Maryland is requiring students returning for the spring semester and living on campus to get a booster shot against COVID-19, the organization announced Friday.

The policy impacts the University of Maryland and all its satellite campuses, Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Frostburg State University, Towson University and University of Baltimore, among other institutions.

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Citing CDC findings that boosters offer the best protection against COVID-19, the organization encouraged all students, faculty and staff to get the additional shot.

Each university will announce its own deadline for getting the shot and any other COVID-19 protocols before students return to campus, the school system said.

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Students who have been exempted from getting vaccinated against COVID-19 are not subject to the new policy.

“Recent data show that boosters offer added protection against COVID, reducing symptom severity, including in cases of Omicron infection,” the university system said in a press release. “Our available vaccines shorten the duration of illness and infectiousness, reducing transmissibility and spread in settings such as congregate housing.”

Last April, USM decided to require all students, faculty and staff get vaccinated before the fall semester.

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“I’d like to frame my remarks not only as System chancellor, but as a physician—a pediatrician. My entire career has been focused on children, through early adulthood,” Chancellor Jay A. Perman said. “As a physician, everything I do in my practice requires a risk/benefit analysis. There is no free ride.”

CBS Baltimore Staff