The University of Maine System will provide two hours of paid administrative leave to employees to use to get a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot, the system announced Friday.

The decision comes two days after Gov. Janet Mills announced all Maine residents 18 and older who have been fully vaccinated are eligible for a free booster.

“Cases are still too high and the highly contagious Delta variant has been an especially grave health threat for unvaccinated individuals,” Chancellor Dannel Malloy said in a news release.

“I got my booster shot and the flu shot at the same time and am encouraging everyone to do the same. Our university community will keep setting the example that vaccination works and doing all we can to protect ourselves and each other from infection.”

The system also offered two hours of paid administrative time for faculty and staff to get their first COVID-19 shots in the spring and has reached a vaccination rate of more than 95 percent among its 30,000 students and employees.

Vaccination or a recognized exemption is required for all students. Employees also must be vaccinated or have a qualified exemption as required by the university and federal policy by Jan. 4.

The system is in discussion with all six of its employee bargaining units and plans to launch an outreach and support effort after the Thanksgiving holiday to ensure all faculty and staff are in compliance with the federal requirements.

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