OHIO — Several Ohio universities require the COVID-19 vaccination following the full authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Monday.
Kent State University announced a vaccine mandate Friday for its more than 36,000 students, as well as non-union employees. They must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 20. The university is discussing a vaccination mandate for union faculty and staff with representatives, officials said in the announcement.
Ohio State University kicked off the recent announcements on Tuesday, followed by a mandate from Xavier University on Wednesday. Two smaller schools, Otterbein University and Capital University, announced vaccine requirements later in the week.
What You Need To Know
- Ohio colleges announce vaccine mandates following the full authorization
- More than 10 Ohio colleges have issued a vaccine requirement for COVID-19
- The pandemic continued to worsen in Ohio and across the country this week
Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that colleges should have the discretion to require vaccination.
“I think this is a decision we should continue to allow the hospitals, universities and the businesses to make, and the government should not get involved in trying to interfere with them,” he said.
His statement comes after state representatives returned from recess earlier in the week for a hearing on a bill that would prohibit vaccine requirements in Ohio. It wasn't yet clear when a vote might take place.
Kristina Johnson, Ohio State’s president, said in an MSNBC interview Wednesday that the vaccination rate needed for herd immunity has changed due to the emergence of the more contagious delta variant.
While the university is about 75% vaccinated, she said that may not be enough to prevent spread on campus.
“The difference between 75% and getting above 90% — it could be the difference between us having more of a normal, iconic Buckeye year, in classes and in residential experience. And that's what we want for our students,” she said.
Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization, at least seven other Ohio colleges had announced vaccine requirements — Case Western Reserve University, Kenyon College, College of Wooster, Mt. St. Joseph University, Cleveland State University, Ohio Wesleyan University and Denison University. A few of the colleges are only requiring vaccination for students who live on campus.
After the FDA’s announcement earlier in the week, Ohio University and Miami University officials told Spectrum News they were discussing the implications of the FDA's authorization internally.
On Monday, President Joe Biden expressed support for vaccine mandates following the FDA’s announcement.
“Vaccination requirements have been around for decades,” he said. “Students, health care professionals, our troops are typically required to receive vaccinations to prevent everything from polio, to smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella. … It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19."
Ohio reported a new recent high of 5,395 COVID-19 cases Thursday, as the seven-day average rose to 3,759. Ohio had not previously reported more than 5,000 cases in a day since January.
Digital Producer Lydia Taylor contributed to this report.