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SUNY will require all students to get COVID-19 vaccine

The State University of New York (SUNY), which administers the state’s community college system, will require all students who attend in-person classes to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior to the start of the fall semester.

SUNY will permit fully vaccinated students to complete the daily COVID-19 screening via a mobile app. In addition, they will not need to:

  • Wear a mask while indoors
  • Participate in pool testing
  • Observe social distancing guidelines

Unvaccinated students who must come to campus for any reason must complete a daily screening via mobile app, always wear a mask while indoors on campus, take a COVID-19 test weekly, and practice social distancing while on campus. Online-only students do not need to meet the requirement. Additionally, SUNY may require unvaccinated students to quarantine prior to coming to campus at the beginning of the semester if CDC guidelines recommend it.

SUNY and the City University of New York (CUNY) announced the COVID-19 vaccine requirements earlier this month. The requirements coincide with a significant uptick in the number of cases of COVID-19. According to the CDC, the number of active COVID-19 cases rose in all 50 states last week. Additionally, the CDC announced today that the COVID-19 Delta variant is now the predominant viral type in the United States.

The Delta variant is more virulent than other SARS-COV-1 subtypes. The CDC now warns that unvaccinated people are highly likely to contract the disease via the Delta variant. Not only is the Delta variant about two to three times more transmissible than the original strain of the virus, but also it causes more serious disease, more hospitalizations, and more deaths, especially among younger people.

COVID-19 vaccine is best path to stopping community spread

Approximately 56% of the population in New York State completed the COVID-19 vaccine series. As of July 19, approximately 56% of Michigan residents received all doses of a vaccine. Nearly 61% of Michigan’s eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, about 8,0000 people per day receive a COVID-19 vaccine, which is not enough to prevent a fourth wave of the disease by the fall.

About two-thirds of Washtenaw County’s eligible residents are fully vaccinated. Unfortunately, the number of adults receiving the first dose of the vaccine has declined significantly. This trend makes it unlikely that Washtenaw County will reach a 70% vaccination rate among eligible recipients anytime soon. Currently, anyone over the age of 12 may receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration predicted last week that the vaccine may be approved for children under the age of 12 by mid-winter.

Health officials do not know what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated or infected to achieve “herd immunity.” They believe, however that a 70% fully vaccinated population will significantly slow the community spread of the disease. In addition, a high vaccination rate will reduce severe disease among those individuals who are fully or partially vaccinated.

A COVID-19 vaccine requirement on campus makes sense, considering the emergence of particularly transmissible viral strains. It also makes sense because the current predominant strain is particularly good at making young people critically ill.

It would also be nice to know what WCC’s COVID-19 plan is for the coming academic year, since this thing won’t be over anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Ivan Radic , via Flickr