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Momentum is building: Yale University and Columbia will require students to be vaccinated

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The requirement to vaccinate students against Covid-19 gained greater momentum on Monday with decisions by Yale University and Columbia University to require vaccinations for their students planning to be on campus at autumn.

Yale President Peter Salovey and Provost Scott Strobel have informed the campus that the University will impose a vaccination mandate on all undergraduate, graduate and vocational school students who return to campus in the fall. They also said that a working group of public health experts is assessing whether to require vaccines for faculty and staff. A recommendation is expected in the coming weeks and a final decision on this should be taken in June.

“Although the course of the COVID-19 pandemic over the next few months remains uncertain, vaccination is the most powerful tool to prevent transmission of the virus,” said Salovey and Strobel. “There is a lot of evidence for the effectiveness of vaccines and a growing confidence that vaccines will be widely available by early summer.”

The email continued, “Therefore, we demand that all undergraduates, graduates and professionals who plan to be on campus be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the start of the fall semester 2021. Additionally, we expect students who plan to study or work on campus this summer to be vaccinated as soon as vaccines become available. ”

Also on Monday, in a letter to Columbia university community, Senior Executive Vice President Gerry Rosberg and Senior Vice President and COO of Columbia University Irving Medical Center Donna Lynne wrote: Columbia University COVID Task Force has decided to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all students on campus, starting this fall. We will provide religious and medical exemptions, as we do for influenza and measles vaccines, in accordance with New York State public health laws. “

They continued, “We view this decision as critical to ensuring the health of Columbia students and the university as a whole and the surrounding community, as well as to contain the spread of the virus in New York City, one of the places most seriously affected in the country. over the past 13 months.

With their decisions on Monday, Yale and Columbia join their Ivy League counterparts at Brown and Cornell in demanding that students be vaccinated against Covid-19. This makes half of the Ivy League schools the choice to have students vaccinated.

They are joining a growing list of colleges, now numbering several dozen, that impose some form of vaccination warrant on their students, but with religious and medical exemptions. According to Atlanta Newspaper Incorporation, Emory and all of the colleges in Central Atlanta, home to the city’s HBCUs – Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College – also announced on Monday the vaccine needs of the students.

While a decision to require vaccinations raises a number of thorny legal and public health questions, there has been a noticeable shift over the past ten days towards more colleges and universities imposing this requirement. . Two factors are probably driving this trend.

First, the legal precedent appears to be on the ability of colleges to impose such mandates, although this issue is still open to debate. And second, the students themselves seem to be in favor of such mandates. A recent survey by Maguire Associates found that 85% of new students would be willing to comply with vaccine requirements on campus.

Despite recent announcements, political factors still seem to influence university decisions about immunization mandates. Almost all of the schools that choose to impose a requirement are private institutions; Public colleges remain reluctant to jump on the bandwagon, fearing negative reactions from a governor or legislature opposing aggressive public health measures as a violation of individual freedoms.

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