Colgate To Require COVID-19 Vaccine For Fall 2021

Colgate announced a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all students returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester, except for those with religious and medical exemptions, via email on May 5. 

The decision to require vaccinations is in line with the American College Health Association’s  (ACHA) recommendation, University Physician and Director of Student Health Services Dr. Merill Miller wrote in the email. The recommendation reads, “Therefore, where state law and available resources allow, ACHA recommends COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all on-campus college and university students for fall semester 2021… This recommendation applies to all students who live on campus and/or participate in on-campus classes, studies, research or activities.”

This decision to require vaccination follows Colgate’s campaign to encourage community members to get vaccinated during the Spring 2021 semester to protect the health and safety of the Village of Hamilton, Colgate campus and greater Madison County area.  

“This decision was made with the health of our community as our priority and based on the data that unequivocally demonstrates that COVID-19 vaccines save lives,” Miller wrote, adding that 66 percent of students and employees have received at least one dose of their vaccine or have already been fully vaccinated. 

The push for students and employees to get vaccinated has been clear ever since New York State eligibility guidelines allowed all individuals 18 years of age and up to receive their vaccination beginning on April 6. 

In her Daily Digest emails, Vice President for Communications Laura Jack persistently included a “Vaccine FAQs” section, in which she debunked vaccination myths, provided information regarding upcoming vaccine availability and shared how to acquire a NYS Excelsior Pass, which verifies and shows proof of vaccination on your mobile device. 

Many other colleges and universities recently announced universal COVID-19 vaccine requirements for their students for the fall. Rutgers University, the first to go public with the decision in March, was followed by many other institutions, including Duke University, Brown University and Cornell University, according to NPR. 

In the wake of a public health emergency, it is not rare that universities require certain vaccinations or immunizations. Colgate specifically requires a meningitis vaccine, along with several others including measles, polio, hepatitis B and other ‘recommended’ immunizations. While vaccination requirements are typical upon arrival at Colgate and most academic institutions, unique circumstances with the COVID-19 vaccination could lead to regulatory or legal roadblocks. 

Since current COVID-19 vaccinations are approved under an emergency use authorization and not fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the vaccine requirement for students could result in additional exemptions due to the legal loopholes until the vaccine is fully approved for use by the FDA — which is likely to take place this summer, according to NPR

In the announcement of Colgate’s requirement, Miller also provided additional guidance for international students who might be receiving their vaccinations in different countries before coming to campus in August, stating that Colgate would accept Astra-Zeneca and other World Health Organization-approved vaccines. 

The University will be offering additional vaccination clinics for students, employees, faculty and staff on May 12, May 18 and May 25. Thus far, the vaccination requirement only includes all new and returning students and does not extend to faculty, staff and employees. Miller wrote that she anticipates Colgate’s department of Human Resources to notify faculty and staff once further planning regarding vaccinations for University employees is finalized. 

Miller stressed the importance of student vaccinations in order to return to a safe, normal, in-person instruction for the Fall semester. “You have shown the world that, by coming together, we can overcome any obstacles or uncertainties, even in a pandemic. Now that vaccinations are being regularly administered around the nation, we are hopeful that we are rapidly approaching a time when we can look back — with great pride and profound thanks — at how well we managed the difficulties of this past year.”