COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State University announced Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccination will be required following the Food and Drug Administration’s full authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday. 

University President Kristina Johnson announced in a letter to the university that students, faculty and staff have until Oct. 15 to begin the vaccination process.

“With Monday’s news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Ohio State will now require every student, faculty and staff member to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Johnson wrote. “The university is taking this step because vaccines are the safest and most effective form of protection against COVID-19.”

As COVID-19 cases rise in Ohio, junior Tala Maya said she will feel much more safe on campus if everyone gets vaccinated. 

“I think that campus could go back to more normal life,” she said Tuesday on her way to a class for her biology studies. 

Due to the high case numbers, Johnson said the university will continue to require masks indoors alongside the vaccine mandate. Her letter cited rising hospitalization numbers in the region and concerns about the transmissibility of the delta variant.

For those who opt for an mRNA vaccine, the deadline to get the second dose is Nov. 15. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also satisfy the requirement. 

Kristina Johnson
Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson is pictured touring a vaccine clinic in a file photo. (Spectrum News, Pete Grieve)


Cody Musselman, an undergraduate engineering student, said Tuesday that he while he has been vaccinated, he wasn’t sure if a requirement is the right move. 

“I think it would definitely be infringing on people's rights, but at the same time, Ohio State requires a lot of other vaccines to come to school, so it would kind of go along with that,” he said. “Some have religious reasons, whatever it may be — personal reasons.”

Because the Pfizer vaccine now has FDA approval, Musselman said he understands where administrators are coming from with issuing a requirement. Still, he expects there to be strong opposition from a relatively small number of students who won’t want to get vaccinated. 

Johnson’s email said the university will approve a limited set of exemptions on a case-by-case basis. According to university officials, medical exemptions require documentation from a health care provider. Requests for religious and personal exemptions can be submitted for review.

The news of full FDA authorization has prompted college administrators in Ohio to review vaccination policies. 

According to a spokesperson for Ohio University, university officials were reviewing possible implications of full authorization. 

“We are just hearing this news with the rest of the world; we will be discussing internally and with public health experts to determine next steps, if any,” spokesperson Carly Leatherwoood said Monday. 

A spokesperson for the University of Toledo said at this time vaccination is not required, but the university is incentivizing students to get the shot with rewards, and by letting vaccinated students bypass weekly testing requirements.

Several other Ohio colleges had announced a vaccine requirement in some form before the FDA’s full authorization, including Cleveland State University, Kenyon College, Ohio Wesleyan University and Case Western Reserve University. 

Digitial Producer Lydia Taylor contributed reporting.