SUNY, CUNY requiring COVID-19 vaccines for all in-person students this fall |

SUNY, CUNY requiring COVID-19 vaccines for all in-person students this fall

Updated: May 10, 2021 02:36 PM
Created: May 10, 2021 11:55 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you plan on attending a State University of New York in-person this fall, you may have to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state can't mandate vaccines until they get full approval from the federal government. If that happens, New York will require students of the state's and New York City's public university and college systems to get vaccinated to attend in-person classes this fall, Cuomo said in a Monday press conference in New York City.

Cuomo previously said there are legal issues surrounding a vaccine mandate. When asked by a reporter about this issue again on Monday, the governor said the state believes the FDA will move the vaccines beyond an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by September, which would allow the mandate to move forward. 

Pfizer is currently working to get full approval from the government.

Previously, SUNY schools had been offering the vaccine at clinics, but it was not required. Cuomo says the state's goal is to raise the vaccination rate in younger people.

State vaccination data showed just 24.7% of people ages 16 to 25 have been fully vaccinated. It's the lowest percentage among any eligible age group. The vaccine was opened up to people 16 years and older on April 6.

The move matches similar efforts at some private schools like RIT, the University of Rochester, Cornell, Ithaca, and Syracuse. Those universities made exceptions for people with medical or religious exemptions.

Cuomo called on other private schools to follow the same move.

"I also encourage private schools to do the same thing," Cuomo said. "Let's make a global statement. You cannot go back to school in person in September unless you have a vaccine. That will be a major motivation for people to get the vaccine, and if you have to get it by September, you may as well get it now, why wouldn't you get it now? OK."

St. John Fisher College said it hasn't decided yet whether it will make vaccines mandatory. Nazareth College says it's encouraging vaccines but is still gathering information and talking about its plans.

Monroe Community College said it'll be communicating with the SUNY system and that it's waiting for guidance on any vaccine requirements.

SUNY Chancellor Malatras released the following statement on the vaccine requirement:

“Since day one of this pandemic, our students, faculty, and staffs’ health and wellbeing have always been top priority. We have taken extraordinary steps to keep our communities safe—from 100 percent weekly mandated testing; to enhanced health and safety protocols; to opening our campuses to serve as vaccination sites for SUNY and the broader community; to advocating for expanded vaccine eligibility for the entire SUNY community; and to a comprehensive public service campaign to get our SUNY community vaccinated. And all of these efforts have paid enormous dividends. SUNY’s 14-day positivity rate is 0.14 percent and our system—the largest comprehensive system in the nation—has done an extraordinary job keeping our campuses running under trying circumstances. Over the past several weeks we have been working with our SUNY community to develop the best plan to make sure we can return to full reopening in the fall and turn the page on COVID. We thank the Governor for providing resources to our many campuses offering vaccines to SUNY and the broader community. The State’s new vaccination requirement—contingent on full FDA approval—will be another step in restoring normal campus activity this fall.”

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