Public well being consultants stated they assist GW’s decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations for these returning to campus this fall, stating the requirement may assist stop any future outbreaks on campus.
Officers stated they may grant “restricted exceptions” to the requirement for people with medical points or non secular causes stopping them from receiving the vaccine, however everybody with out an exemption have to be totally vaccinated two weeks previous to returning to campus this fall. Public well being consultants stated the vaccine requirement can strengthen public well being on campus, however college students stated they might face logistical points receiving doses earlier than the autumn semester.
Officers stated the requirement locations the College neighborhood one step nearer to a full return to campus within the fall.
“We stay optimistic in regards to the coming months, and we’re excited to take extra constructive steps that prioritize well being and security in addition to give attention to flexibility and an enticing on-campus expertise this fall,” the e-mail saying the vaccine requirement states.
Greater than 30 universities throughout the nation have mandated the vaccine, together with three of GW’s peer faculties – Northeastern, Georgetown and Syracuse universities.
Public well being consultants stated the vaccine requirement is essential for limiting COVID-19 outbreaks on campus and establishing herd immunity as soon as college students return to campus within the fall.
John Swartzberg, a medical professor emeritus on the College of California Berkeley’s Faculty of Public Well being, stated a vaccine mandate not solely improves GW’s herd immunity, however it is going to additionally improve the well being of the College’s surrounding neighborhood.
“Research after research have proven that when faculty campuses have an explosion of outbreaks, then what follows is an explosion in the neighborhood these faculties are in,” Swartzberg stated. “So the virus doesn’t respect the truth that it’s simply faculty college students who keep inside the campus.”
He stated the mandate will lighten the monetary burden on universities as a result of faculties received’t must repeatedly take a look at college students for the coronavirus after everybody receives the vaccine.
“A lot of the faculties will probably be doing testing regularly, whereas the scholars received’t have to try this in the event that they’re vaccinated to save lots of some huge cash,” Swartzberg stated. “Extra importantly, it’ll save lots of people getting contaminated, sick, some hospitalized and tragically there will probably be occasional deaths.”
Andrea Berry, an assistant professor of medication on the College of Maryland, stated faculty college students ought to word the big quantity of COVID-19 outbreaks which have occurred on campuses for the reason that pandemic started. She stated a vaccine mandate would set up campus herd immunity with between 90 to 100% protection.
Berry stated universities ought to develop messaging and campaigns focused towards college students with issues about vaccination to extend belief within the vaccine and make college students extra comfy with the requirement.
“City halls and focus teams are actually essential to seek out out what the issues are in addition to growing a form of advertising and messaging,” she stated. “Having webinars inviting vaccine consultants to talk to folks about causes for vaccine hesitancy or the science behind vaccines can be very essential.”
Some college students who journey internationally stated the requirement may restrict them to vaccines solely accredited in america, which they could battle to obtain in time earlier than returning to campus.
Sophomore Ekaterina Shengeliya stated she lives in Ukraine and helps the vaccine requirement, however she’s apprehensive the sluggish vaccine rollout in Ukraine will delay her means to safe an appointment earlier than the autumn.
“I’m positive that this is applicable to numerous overseas college students who come from international locations which aren’t a part of the Western world, the place vaccinations are going very slowly too,” she stated. “And the priority for folks like me is, ‘Okay, I do know as a resident I can’t get vaccinated in Washington.’”
Shengeliya stated she’s pissed off the College didn’t decide to any concrete plans about whether or not the autumn semester will probably be on-line or in particular person after the vaccine mandate announcement. She stated she desires to return to campus however must know prematurely if the College will enable worldwide college students to test into housing early to allow them to isolate earlier than courses start.
In any other case, she stated she must spend extra money reserving a lodge for isolation upon her return to the District earlier than the beginning of courses.
Officers have stated they plan to open campus “to the fullest extent attainable” this fall however have but to make a definitive resolution about in-person operations.
Oscar Rios, a sophomore learning political science, stated he plans to request an exemption from the vaccine mandate for non secular causes. He stated as a Roman Catholic there are “ethical tips” about vaccination like a document the Vatican printed which states that receiving the vaccine needs to be a voluntary act and never a “ethical obligation.”
“In an ethical sense, I can’t be pressured to get a vaccine as a result of if I’m mandated to be vaccinated that takes away from my free will,” Rios stated.
He stated he additionally opposes the mandate as a result of the vaccines have been solely accredited for emergency use authorization by the Meals and Drug Administration somewhat than by means of the FDA’s typical approval course of. The Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines have been all accredited by means of the shorter FDA emergency authorization process as a substitute of the standard FDA Biologics License Software for prescribed drugs and vaccines.
“I don’t have any intention to be vaccinated anytime quickly,” Rios stated. “My opinion on the vaccine might change, however as of proper now, I oppose the vaccine mandate imposed by GW.”
Medical consultants have addressed folks’s issues that the vaccine course of was rushed, assuring them that the scientific requirements of the FDA approval course of have been maintained when making the choice to authorize the vaccines for emergency use. Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Middle for Biologics Analysis and Analysis, stated in a release earlier this yr that even with the accelerated emergency approval course of, researchers have been “guided by science and information.”
Rios stated he needs the College would broaden its vaccine requirement to incorporate vaccines which were approved internationally like Sputnik V, a vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Nationwide Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia, and the CoronaVac vaccine by Sinovac, a Beijing-based pharmaceutical firm.
He stated he can not journey to El Salvador to obtain his vaccine like he had hoped as a result of the College doesn’t settle for the CoronaVac and Astrazeneca vaccines – the one vaccines approved within the nation.
“This causes a burden for a lot of worldwide college students who most likely have been vaccinated of their dwelling international locations and are being requested to be re-vaccinated,” Rios stated. “We’re nonetheless uncertain about how competing vaccines intervene with one another, so it’s value investigating that as properly.”