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Brandeis University students launch vending machine that dispenses Plan B

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A student group at Brandeis University celebrated the unveiling of a new health and wellness vending machine on campus last week that gives people immediate access to products like Plan B, the emergency contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex.

After more than a year of logistics and planning, the group Brandeis Pro-Choice, which “promotes reproductive rights” for students, has turned on the Wellness Vending Machine in the Waltham school’s Shapiro Campus Center. Susannah Miller, president of the group, said in a statement that giving students direct access to products like Plan B fills a void at the school. Plan B can be bought over-the-counter and is available in the Brandeis student health center, according to school officials. However, the center has limited hours during the week and is closed on weekends.

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“Access to sexual and reproductive health care is essential to everyone’s health and well-being,” Miller said. “This vending machine will help all Brandeis students access care when we need it.”

Brandeis Pro-Choice first started work on bringing the vending machine to campus in 2017, after members learned about colleges in other parts of the country rolling out similar devices.

The group later received a $5,000 grant from Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund to move ahead with the project. Miller said since receiving the funds, students, and staff have worked tirelessly to make the launch of the vending machine a reality. The group also got support from the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, members of the group said.

“We had such a large outpouring of support from the student body and I am so glad we can finally implement this resource for them,” she said. “I hope it will give students more agency over their sexual health and continue to help people for years to come.”

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Besides the “morning-after pill,” the vending machine also houses products like condoms, Advil, and menstrual hygiene products for women, according to the group.

Members of the group previously told the Globe that the school administration was receptive to the project from the outset.

In a statement last week, school officials praised students for getting the machine up and running.

“We applaud our students’ initiative in working to see that the vending machine will enable immediate access even when the health center is closed,” said Brandeis spokeswoman Julie Jette.

The school will continue to offer emergency contraception and other reproductive health services to students when needed, Jette said.


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.