Five Ohio Colleges Needing Injections This Fall

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As Ohio colleges and universities scrambled to get Vaccines against covid-19 in student arms this spring, Ohio Wesleyan University president Rock Jones made an announcement regarding the fall semester: students would be required to get the vaccine to return to campus.

Jones’ announcement came in early March, but the private Delaware University of Liberal Arts quickly changed course after some questioned the decision to require the vaccines if they are still under authorization for use. emergency. OWU briefly changed its plans to strongly encourage COVID-19 vaccinations and only require them once they have been fully approved by the FDA.

Now, three months after its last change, OWU is back to its original plan. Students will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester and provide proof of vaccination by July 23.

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“We believe this will help us deliver a strong campus experience that includes in-person classes, athletic and performing arts events with spectators and other large-group activities,” said the bearer. word of the university, Cole Hatcher.

The debate over whether or not to require COVID-19 vaccines added another layer this week as Governor Mike DeWine signed a law preventing public schools from requiring vaccinations.

Ohio Wesleyan University is one of five colleges in the state that so far will require COVID-19 vaccinations for at least some students this fall. These schools also include:

  • Kenyon College, a private liberal arts college in Gambier in Knox County;
  • Mount Saint Joseph University, a private Catholic college in Mount Saint Joseph near Cincinnati;
  • The College of Wooster, a private liberal arts college in Wooster; and
  • Cleveland State University, a state public university.

Each of the Ohio college’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements is different, but officials at each school said the decision was made in order to provide students with a safer and more normal campus experience.

Nationwide, nearly 600 colleges have so far announced their intention to require vaccination against COVID-19, according to the Chronicle of higher education. This represents about 14% of all post-secondary institutions in the country. The number of private schools requiring COVID-19 vaccinations is slightly more than the number of public schools, and a handful of for-profit schools have imposed some sort of vaccine requirement.

The first college to announce COVID-19 vaccination requirements was Rutgers University on March 25. Four other Big 10 schools made similar announcements: University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Northwestern University and Purdue University.

Rutgers’ announcement started a steady stream of other colleges following suit. Less than two weeks after Rutgers’ announcement, a dozen schools announced COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Over 100 schools made similar announcements within two weeks.

HB 244 prevents public schools from currently requiring COVID-19 vaccines

Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 244 on Wednesday that will prevent, among other things, public schools and universities from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students and staff until they receive full approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration.

The three COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – have been approved under emergency use authorization, a rigorous protocol that includes clinical trials.

The new law won’t go into effect for 90 days, and the vaccines could receive full FDA approval in that window, rendering the legislation moot.

Cleveland State University is the only public school in Ohio that required COVID-19 vaccinations for this fall. The requirement currently only applies to students in residence, who represent less than 10% of the student body.

Dave Kielmeyer, acting vice president of marketing and communications at CSU, said the university has been following science throughout the pandemic and has adopted policies from the start focused on public safety.

Regarding Bill 244, Kielmeyer said the requirement will remain in place until the bill officially comes into force.

“We will comply with the law, that’s the main thing,” he said.

Kielmeyer said the university has been encouraging everyone – students, staff and faculty – to get vaccinated since COVID-19 vaccines became widely available. But research has shown that students in halls of residence are at an increased risk of spreading the virus, which is why they are the priority for its compulsory vaccination.

CSU students will not be allowed to move into dormitories if they are not vaccinated. Kielmeyer said the university hadn’t seen much hindsight on the decision.

“I think overall the students and families appreciated our efforts to keep the community safe,” he said.

Private schools may still require COVID-19 vaccines

House Bill 244 does not apply to private universities or hospitals connected to public universities.

At Ohio Wesleyan, all students must be immunized. Students can submit a vaccine registration form or, if they cannot be vaccinated for a documented medical, disability, or religious reason, they can request an exemption from the policy.

OWU employees are not required to be vaccinated, Hatcher said. If they are not vaccinated, however, they will need to follow masking, physical distancing, and other guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for unvaccinated people.

If students are not granted an exemption, they will also need to follow CDC guidelines for unvaccinated people. OWU will not be offering blended learning options this fall, so Hatcher said non-exempt students who still refuse to be vaccinated can choose to suspend their studies if they wish.

“We will work with incoming students to defer admission and with returning students to grant time off so they can resume their studies at Ohio Wesleyan when they feel comfortable doing so,” he said. he declared.

Kenyon College is also requiring its students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Janet Marsden, a spokesperson for the university, said almost all students live on campus, so choosing to require vaccinations is the best way to reduce transmission.

Kenyon’s policy went into effect in June for students living on campus this summer, and Marsden said there was 100% compliance. Of the 200 or so students on campus, 99% are vaccinated and the rest are granted medical exemption.

Employees are not required but are encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 70% of all employees – and 95% of teachers – have been vaccinated.

“Kenya attracts students from all over the country and around the world, and they have expressed broad support for the college’s vaccination policy,” Marsden said. “Not only does the policy comply with the latest public health guidelines for residential colleges, it aligns with the values ​​and practices of the majority of our community.”

Associate Pharmacy Director Ariane Schieber measures a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as frontline workers received booster shots in January at East Ohio State Hospital.

Encouraged and prompted

While the vast majority of schools in Ohio don’t require the COVID-19 vaccine for students and faculty, some still offer incentives to get one.

Ohio State University President Kristina M. Johnson announced at a town hall on March 1 that the university would not require a COVID-19 vaccination this fall.

The university has not updated its vaccination policy, but it has made some changes to its other COVID-19 protocols that benefit those vaccinated.

The state of Ohio is reducing testing requirements for students who have been fully immunized. For vaccinated students attending the Columbus campus or living in college accommodation on any campus, the COVID-19 test will be required once a month or less, while unvaccinated students will be tested once a week or more. .

The university is also asking students to voluntarily share their vaccine status so they can adjust testing schedules, quarantine requirements and its overall response to the pandemic.

To further encourage people to get vaccinated, the state of Ohio has announced that it will give away $ 50,000 in prizes to fully vaccinated students, faculty and staff throughout August. Approximately 100 students, faculty and staff will win prizes, including gift cards ranging from $ 100 to $ 1,000, a pair of seasonal football tickets, or an “A” parking pass on the Columbus campus. of the University.

The University of Miami is also encouraging students to get vaccinated with its “Your Shot to Win” program. Those who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can enter to win prizes this summer and fall.

Prizes include a credit equal to one semester of tuition and fees in the state, a meal plan in Miami for one year, VIP tickets for the winner and nine friends to a hockey game in Miami, 5,000 $ cash, a MacBook Air laptop, iPad Pro, or bookstore gift cards.

Jessie Balmert, a reporter with the Ohio Office of the USA TODAY Network, contributed to this story.

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