Vanderbilt to require COVID-19 vaccinations for Fall 2021 semester

Vaccines are mandated for all new and returning students; students may submit a religious or medical accommodation request by June 15.

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Emily Gonçalves

The Student Health Center. (Hustler Multimedia/Emily Gonçalves)

Rachael Perrotta, News Editor

At approximately 10 a.m. CDT on Monday, May 17, students were notified via an email from Associate Provost and Dean of Students G.L. Black that they will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin the Fall 2021 semester. Black expressed that this decision will allow campus life to begin its return to normal operations.

We are now planning for a fall semester that more closely resembles a traditional university experience,” the email read.

Black stated that the Student Access Office will be accepting religious and medical accommodations until June 15. International students who may lack easy access to vaccines will receive supplemental information.

Per the email, any World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccine will satisfy the requirement. This includes the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing the virus, and experts believe getting the vaccine prevents serious illness even if you do get infected,” the email read.

The email also highlighted Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC)’s contributions to vaccine development and rollout.  

“The rapid development and expansion of the vaccine is an unprecedented achievement in the history of medicine and is one in which scientists and clinicians at Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center played leading roles,” the email read. “This underscores the power of our university’s relentless pursuit of innovation and our mission to be of service to our community.”

VUMC has offered the Pfizer vaccine to students since April 13 and starting on Monday, May 24, the Student Health Center will be administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on an appointment basis. 

Students staying in Nashville for the summer are encouraged to call Student Health at 615-322-2427 to schedule an appointment,” the email read. “Time slots will be available 1–3 p.m. Mondays and 9–11 a.m. Thursdays.”

Black cited that other universities have made the move to require vaccinations for the Fall 2021 semester. This list of schools includes Rutgers University, Northeastern University and Brown University

In an April 23 interview with The Hustler, Chancellor Daniel Diermeier stated that the university’s decision on mandatory vaccinations would place students’ safety at the forefront.

One important consideration for us is that the vaccines at this point are still under emergency authorization, and we’d like to wait until the FDA makes a decision on approving these vaccines and under what conditions, as we just saw recent news about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Diermeier said. “We’d like to wait until the regulatory process and the proper drug approval process has run its course, and then we will make our decision.”

The email stated that more information regarding how to prove vaccination status as well as updates to campus COVID-19 protocols will follow.