Swift vaccine mandate surprises some college students

Swift vaccine mandate surprises some college students

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Vaccine-hesitant students and staff at Ohio State University got an extra nudge to get their COVID-19 shot.

What You Need To Know

  • Some students were expecting a recommendation to get the shot, not a mandate
  • OSU announced a vaccine mandate Tuesday for all faculty, students and staff
  • Non-compliant staff will have to go through HR and non-compliant students will have to enroll in online classes

As students trickled into a makeshift COVID-19 testing and vaccination site on campus not even 24 hours after Ohio State began requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, the news for some was welcomed. For others, they had mixed emotions about it.

“I can understand that it’s very important for everybody on campus to be vaccinated. It’s very important for public health, but on the other hand, I also agree with personal rights and HIPAA,” said Jo Bradshaw.

She said an email from the university after the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine was surprising to her.

“I was not expecting an email to go out that says it’s a requirement,” she said. “I expected an email to go out saying it’s a recommendation. So, I was a little surprised to receive it.”

Ohio State student Sam Willkomm got the vaccine after receiving the email. He didn’t plan on getting the vaccine so soon.

“I kind of wanted to take the summer to see how everything was going to go,” he said.

But when he came back to campus, he said there was a lot of pressure to get the vaccine.

“Most of my friends had already gotten it,” he said.

When the FDA approved the Pfizer shot, he said that he felt better about it.

“It was just kind of the last step that I think everyone needed to see was that it’s mandated now,” he said of the announcement by the university’s requirement.

He admitted, though, that if the university hadn’t mandated it, he wouldn’t have gotten it so soon, but didn’t disagree with Ohio State making a decision.

“I think such a big school as Ohio State is, I think they need to take a stance like this.” 

As new data comes in and as the university receives public health guidance, officials said they’ll make adjustments to their health and safety protocols and procedures when necessary.

Right now, 73% of OSU’s faculty, staff and students received at least one shot of the vaccine. Oct. 15 is the deadline for the first dose and Nov. 15 is the deadline for the second dose.

OSU officials said students who choose not to get vaccinated will have to enroll in online classes, get tested weekly and wear a mask indoors. Faculty who choose not to comply with employee requirements will have to go through a human resources process.  

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