CLEVELAND — After Gov. Mike DeWine signed a new law Wednesday prohibiting public schools from requiring unauthorized vaccines, Cleveland State University students who are living on campus will still be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the university confirmed.
Although all three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have received emergency use authorization, none of them have been given full authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug administration.
The law takes effect Oct. 12. Because of this, Cleveland State University is still requiring students in campus housing to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Aug. 16. on move-in day.
"Over the last three semesters, our students, faculty and staff have worked hard to keep our community safe. As a result, Cleveland State University achieved one of lowest infection rates among urban universities in the country," Cleveland State wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Cleveland State initially announced the mandate on April 1.
"CSU’s requirement that all students living in our residence halls be vaccinated for COVID-19 remains in effect. Medical and religious exemptions are available for qualifying individuals," Cleveland State wrote, saying it will fully comply with the mandate once it goes into effect in October.
Before DeWine's office announced the governor signed the bill, DeWine called on the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to fully authorize the COVID-19 vaccines. If that happens, schools could require COVID-19 vaccination in Ohio.
“It is past time for the FDA to take into account that hundreds of millions of people have received these vaccines, and to move it from an emergency basis over to a regular basis,” DeWine said. “Lives are frankly at stake.”
State Sen. Andrew Brenner, who introduced the provision with the vaccine requirement ban, told Spectrum News Wednesday that the law might make administrators think twice before implementing the mandate this fall.
“Ohio Wesleyan has a policy where they're going to be requiring people to be vaccinated, but they're a private university. This does not cover them, but I think now private universities need to take a look at what was signed today, and they should consider now that they shouldn't be forcing it,” he said.
Kenyon College, Mount. St. Joseph University, Ohio Wesleyan University and the College of Wooster have all required students to get the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus this fall.
Spectrum News reached out to these universities for comment Thursday morning.
Kenyon College will still require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
"In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College Health Association (ACHA), Kenyon College will require students enrolling in the 2021-2022 academic year to provide proof of immunization for all vaccines recommended by the CDC, including COVID-19 and influenza," a spokesperson for the college told Spectrum News Thursday. "Requests for reasonable accommodations for medical exceptions and sincerely held religious beliefs will be considered on an individual basis, but it is our expectation that the campus community will consist predominantly of fully vaccinated individuals, which serves to greatly reduce the risk of infection."
It's possible two companies could have their COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA before Oct. 12. Pfizer-BioNTech asked for full approval for its COVID-19 vaccine on May 7 and is still in the review process. Moderna applied for full approval on June 1.