Ohio State University Requiring Students, Staff To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Seal of The Ohio State University on a brick wall
[Dan Konik / Statehouse News Bureau]
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The Ohio State University is requiring all students and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first public university in the state to do so after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer's shot.

OSU President Kristina Johnson made the decision through advice from a team of medical professionals from the College of Public Health and the Wexner Medical Center.

"The university is taking this step because vaccines are the safest and most effective form of protection against COVID-19. We are focused on enhancing the health and safety of our community. This step will increase our ability to support our students in continuing their educational experiences as well as help protect our current and the state’s future workforce," Johnson wrote in a letter to students, faculty, and staff.

State lawmakers passed HB 244 in June, which prohibited public K-12 schools and higher education institutions from requiring students and staff to get a vaccine that didn't have full approval by the FDA. At the time, the COVID-19 vaccines had been approved under an emergency use authorization. This week, the FDA gave the Pfizer vaccine full approval.

Cleveland State University currently requires students who live on campus to get the shot.

House Bill 244 goes into effect in October. Until then, Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) says colleges and universities "have every right" to require COVID shots.

The FDA's approval gives way for public universities to require the COVID-19 vaccine. OSU already requires students to get other vaccines, such as the immunizations for polio, MMR, and hepatitis B.

The fall semester at Ohio State University began on Tuesday. Leading up to the start of classes, the university required students to provide their vaccination status. The university says more than 70% of students had already received the COVID-19 shot.

Along with Ohio State University, other private institutions including Case Western Reserve University, Kenyon College and Ohio Wesleyan University, are requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students. 

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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