As the University of La Verne plans to return to on-campus learning in the fall, students, faculty and staff are urged – but so far not required – to get vaccinated against COVID-19, University officials said this week.
“We’re anticipating a full return with face-to-face instruction with appropriate accommodations,” Rod Leveque, University spokesman, said, adding that the University is awaiting further guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before calling for mandatory vaccination.
Leveque said that once June guidelines are received, the University will be able to determine whether to make vaccination mandatory.
“Due to the communal environment that takes place (on campus), having a population that is vaccinated helps to reduce the health risk,” said Juan Regalado, chief student affairs officer. “The vaccine is not a cure-all, but it is a step in the right direction.”
Last month, the Cal State and University of California systems announced that they will require all of their nearly half-million students, with all employees, to be vaccinated before returning to campus in fall 2021. They are joined by hundreds of private and public colleges and universities across the nation – including the nearby Claremont Colleges, Chapman University, Caltech and Occidental College – that have also announced during the past several weeks that they too are making vaccination mandatory for fall.
ULV officials said, however, they will await more information, guidance and updates from the CDC, as well as the Food and Drug Administration.
Once those announcements happen ULV can issue a formal announcement on whether or not the vaccine will be mandatory, officials said.
The three vaccines available in the U.S., from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, currently have emergency FDA approval. Full FDA approval could come this summer.
The vaccines are between 66 percent and 95 percent effective at preventing the disease, according to CDC data. The effectiveness rates may go down somewhat when the virus mutates.
Meanwhile the notion of mandatory vaccination is popular among University of La Verne students and faculty, according to recent surveys of both groups.
On April 26 Regalado sent an online survey to ULV students to see where they stood on COVID vaccination. As of Monday, 74% of student respondents said they have received or plan to receive their vaccinations, and roughly 70% said they would support a vaccine mandate, while 22% reported they did not support such a mandate.
The Faculty Facilities and Space Committee also conducted a survey titled “Faculty Survey on Vaccinations for Campus Return,” which found that nearly 80% of faculty respondents said “yes” to mandatory vaccination. These results were announced May 1.
Vaccines became available to faculty and staff under 65 on March 1, and to all adults in California on April 12. This week, children as young as 12 became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.
For the past few months ULV has been partnering with Western University of Health Sciences to provide appointments for students, faculty and staff to receive the vaccination.
While it is not a requirement at the moment, Leveque said, it is something that is strongly encouraged.
Eugene Shang, director of residence life and student conduct, and Lisa Lester, associate director of housing operations, said housing priority will go to students who have been vaccinated.
“If we were told we have to limit our numbers, we do have to take COVID vaccinations into account,” Lester said. “It’s a communal living space. For a college campus, it is a high risk area for the virus to spread.”
They emphasized that it is very important for housing to be available to students for accessibility to on-campus resources and to contribute to their college experience.
Taylor Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.