The University of Cincinnati (UC) announced Wednesday morning it will require members of the campus community to get vaccinated during fall semester.
Students, faculty and staff who are not already fully vaccinated must receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15, with those receiving a two-dose vaccine required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, UC President Neville Pinto said in a statement.
The decision comes in response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision last week to give full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, he said. The university was previously prohibited under Ohio law from requiring vaccines that were not fully approved by the FDA.
While the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still authorized under emergency use, those vaccines fulfill UC’s requirement.
“Our focus continues to be the wellbeing of our community,” Pinto said. “We believe this step best positions our university to meet the needs of our campus community.”
Pinto said the requirement applies to students and university employees who come to campus for class or work, as well as those who use campus facilities. Though exemptions to the vaccine requirement can be requested.
Members of the campus community who fail to meet the requirement deadlines must submit to weekly COVID-19 testing, Pinto said. Students who are not fully vaccinated and not given an exemption by spring semester will be unenrolled from classes.
While some universities acted quickly to impose a vaccine requirement following the FDA’s mandate, officials at UC chose to gather feedback from the campus community and study the approach of other public institutions.
Survey results found that a majority of UC faculty and staff are in favor of the vaccine mandate and believed it should go into effect as soon as possible.
Ohio State University, the state’s largest public university, moved quickly last week to implement a vaccine requirement after the FDA’s announcement, according to a report from the Columbus Dispatch. Students, faculty and staff there also have until Oct. 15 to get one dose of vaccine, with the deadline for a second dose being Nov. 15.
Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country – both public and private – have implemented vaccine requirements as well.
Though it is currently unknown whether UC will face any backlash over its decision, Pinto acknowledged some may disagree with the requirement.
“Listening to one another is crucial, even if we disagree. The more we truly listen, the more we will unite over our common values rather than divide over polarizing issues,” he said. “We have a long road ahead during this unpredictable pandemic, and it will be a journey best travelled caring for one another.”