by Guy Page
All University of Vermont students attending classes this fall must be vaccinated for Covid-19, although all vaccines remain authorized for emergency use only, UVM said Friday.
UVM announced earlier this year student vaccination (with unspecified exceptions) would be required of all students once Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval had been given. Because that approval now seems unlikely before next year, UVM will forge ahead with the vaccination mandate under emergency use authorization, a college spokesperson said Friday.
“I have consulted with medical and public health experts at the university and in the state,” said UVM President Suresh Garimella. “The risk is simply too high to take chances with COVID-19, especially with thousands of our students coming from other states where vaccination rates are lower than ours.”
Vermont leads the nation in vaccination rates. Currently, 83 percent of residents have had at least one dose of vaccine.
“A fully vaccinated student population on our campus is the best way to continue to protect the health of students, employees, and the broader Burlington community against COVID-19,” said Garimella. “And it is the most effective way to ensure a vibrant campus experience for our students.”
Friday’s announcement of the Board of Trustees Executive Board’s decision did not explicitly address FDA approval. Vermont Daily asked UVM spokesperson Enrique Corredera to clarify: “Will UVM students be required to be vaccinated before FDA approval?”
Corredera replied, “That is correct. We had anticipated full approval by this fall for at least one of the vaccines available under Emergency Use Authorization. Medical professionals now expect that could be as late as in early 2022. Today’s action builds on the previous announcement given the now-extended timeline for full approval.”
Vermont State Colleges and private colleges also have said they would require vaccination pending FDA approval. It is unclear whether they will follow UVM’s lead. The UVM mandate does not extend to staff and faculty, for reasons explained to Vermont Daily by Corredera last month:
“Students on a college campus form a different population with unique characteristics,” Corredera said. “They come from states all over the country with a wide range of vaccination rates; They spend most of their time on campus living in close quarters; and statistically we have seen that vaccination rates in this age group have been significantly lower than in older populations. We are of course encouraging faculty and staff members to get vaccinated.”
Federal law requires that recipients of EUA drugs “are informed of the option to accept or refuseadministration of the product,” of the consequences of refusal, and the alternatives available.
Children’s Health Defense says federal law requires individuals to whom the EUA product is administered must be informed of:
- significant known and unknown potential benefits and risks of such use
- option to accept or refuse administration of the product and the consequences if any of refusing administration of the product, and
- alternatives to the product.
At least one mother says her child won’t be attending UVM due to the vaccination requirement. “My HS senior (a straight A kid) has just crossed off UVM from her list of colleges,” Alaina L. of Bennington County said. “So much for keeping Vermonters here. Very sad. We are so discouraged by the trampling of personal liberty here. I will be reaching out to UVM to state my opinion.” Her full name is not printed because, she says, she fears repercussions towards her child.
UVM expects near-record enrollment, according to news reports in May.
The legal arm of America’s Frontline Doctors is preparing a national lawsuit against collegiate vaccination requirements and is looking for concerned students attending universities in Colorado, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. It is not known if the suit will be expanded to other states.