Ohio University announced Tuesday that students, faculty and staff are now required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by November, a decision supported by university and Athens community members.
James Gaskell, health commissioner and medical director at the Athens City-County Health Department, said the university has given students, faculty and staff an adequate amount of time to get vaccinated. In order to participate in Spring Semester activities, live on campus and receive face-to-face instruction, students must be vaccinated or have their exemption approved.
On Aug. 23, Pfizer was granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Numerous public universities in Ohio have since announced vaccination mandates, including Ohio State University, who announced its vaccine mandate Aug. 24. According to a previous Post report, OU officials met with public health experts to determine how to update its university health protocols.
Jennifer Fredette, professor in the Center for Law, Justice and Culture, was active on Twitter following Pfizer’s approval, advocating for a COVID-19 vaccination mandate at OU.
“Good afternoon, @OHIO_President and @covid_ohio! A lot of Bobcats are wondering: Now the FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine, will @ohiou enjoy an even more robust return to campus via a vaccine mandate, like @OhioState recently did?” Fredette said in a tweet.
Following OU’s decision to mandate the vaccine, Fredette said she was glad the university joined other colleges who had already instated vaccine mandates.
Carrie Love, a sophomore studying women’s gender and sexuality studies, said she was excited OU decided to mandate the vaccine.
“I've been vaccinated since April which was I think the earliest I could get it,” Love said. “I had heard about OSU, and I was surprised that ours hadn’t gone in place sooner. When I had seen it, I think my first reaction was “Finally.” Like, obviously, this should be happening.”
Becky “Eliza” Ivan, a fifth-year student studying political science and the president of OU’s Student Senate, said Senate’s executive team is supportive of the mandate.
“It’s great to see that even our alumni are in support of our University doing what’s best for the health and safety of our community,” Ivan said in an email.
In a university news release, OU said Athens and many regional campuses will participate in hosting vaccination clinics for their students.
Gaskell said the health department will also hold mass vaccination clinics every Friday until everyone who wants to receive the vaccine has had the opportunity to do so. Additionally, he said the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine will be holding vaccine clinics for OU students.
“Ohio University is not alone in this. There are a large number of universities now following suit and vaccinating all of their students,” Gaskell said. “It also helps society at large … because it'll provide herd immunity and less chance of having infection in the general population.”
Ivan said she encourages students who are not supportive of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate or have concerns related to the mandate to reach out to Senate and Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations. In addition, Ivan said a portion of Senate’s weekly meetings are dedicated to students who can speak directly to administrators.
Students will be permitted to apply for a vaccine exemption due to religious, ethical, moral or medical reasons.
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Becky “Eliza” Ivan. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.