Miami University, Xavier University to Require COVID Vaccines for Students

Both schools have mandated that students be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the spring semester — or else they won't be able to register for classes.

Miami University will require students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated from COVID-19 by Nov. 22. - Photo: Provided by Miami University
Photo: Provided by Miami University
Miami University will require students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated from COVID-19 by Nov. 22.

UPDATE: The University of Cincinnati has updated its COVID policy and will now require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated.

As the Delta variant surges through Ohio and the fall semester begins, colleges and universities are looking at how best to protect their students and staff.

And Miami University and Xavier University have decided that's through vaccination.

Both schools will mandate that students — and faculty and staff at Miami — be vaccinated before the spring semester. The action comes on the heels of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine's approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on Aug. 23.

Xavier lists two vaccination deadlines, noting that those who don't comply will not be able to register or attend spring classes: 

  1. Prior to October 18, 2021, students will be required to show proof of having received either full or partial (ie. first dose of a two-dose protocol) vaccination. Students who do not demonstrate this will not be permitted to register for classes for the spring 2022 semester.
  2. By January 3, 2022, students must complete their second dose and verify their full vaccination, if applicable (ie. Pfizer or Moderna), or they will be canceled from their spring 2022 classes.

Acceptable vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or any of those authorized by the World Health Organization for emergency use.

Students may request an exemption for medical or religious reasons, although Xavier — a Jesuit school — does note that Pope Francis said, ""Getting vaccinated is a simple yet profound way to care for one another, especially the most vulnerable. I pray to God that each one of us can make his or her own small gesture of love."

At Miami, all students, faculty and staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22.

A campus announcement reads: 

By Monday, October 25, 2021, all full- and part-time faculty and staff and all undergraduate and graduate students who will have any presence on any Miami University campus or university-owned or -controlled property must have begun the vaccination process with at least one dose. Full courses of WHO-approved vaccines will also be accepted for international students. The full dose must be completed by Monday, November 22, 2021.

Students will not be allowed to register for spring classes unless they receive at least one dose of a COVID vaccine by Oct. 25 or have an approved exemption.

“We strongly urge all members of our community to start the vaccination or exemption process as soon as possible,” Miami University President Gregory P. Crawford says. “The Delta variant has shown to be particularly contagious and dangerous for those who are unvaccinated; this is not the time to wait for a deadline to act.”

Students may request to forgo vaccination for "medical reasons, religious reasons, or for reasons of conscience, including ethical and philosophical beliefs," says the school, and must complete supporting documentation. Those who remain unvaccinated must comply with other health and safety rules, including testing. 

Miami also says "a deferral may be granted for pregnancy or nursing or for those who have had COVID-19 within 90 days preceding Oct. 25."

Employees who choose not to be vaccinated and don't have an exemption could face disciplinary action. 

To help get people become vaccinated against the virus, free vaccines will be available to the "Miami community" at 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays at the Armstrong Student Center. No appointments are necessary. There will also be vaccines available to all students, employees and their spouses/dependents via Health Services at the Oxford campus. Call 513-529-3000 to schedule.

Xavier is also offering COVID-19 vaccines at its Health Services by calling 513-745-3022 (option 3).

Other local universities are also taking precautions. 

Since Aug. 4, Northern Kentucky University requires everyone on campus to mask up when indoors, no matter their vaccination status.

NKU also stresses that community members should get an authorized Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine to help guard against severe COVID-19 symptoms and to protect others. The university provides free COVID-19 vaccines at its NKU Health, Counseling and Student Wellness office on campus, and Kentucky residency is not required to get one.

And the University of Cincinnati currently says that while the school is not requiring vaccines, they are considering it.

An Aug. 24 statement issued by President Neville G. Pinto reads:

“Given the FDA’s recent full approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people age 16 and older, many of you have asked if the University will now require mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. At this time, we are thoughtfully studying this issue and gathering input from our students, faculty and staff. Learning how other schools and states navigate this issue is helpful. In the end, though, we must make the decision that works best for our campus community. If you want to share your perspective on this issue, we recommend you coordinate your input via your respective governance group, including Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government and the Graduate Student Association.”  

Ohio and Kentucky both are seeing sustained spikes in COVID-19 cases — spikes that the states hadn't seen in many months or even since last year. Last week, Ohio reported a 900% increase in COVID-19 infections over the last month, with the southern border of the state considered a hot spot. Meanwhile, Kentucky had a 26% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over a one-week period, with more than 20% of the Commonwealth's hospitals experiencing staff shortages.

Health officials have long said that a combination of vaccinations and masking will help slow the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus. In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals wear face masks, especially indoors and in regions of great virus transmission or low vaccination (as of Aug. 27, the CDC labels all counties in the Cincinnati area as "high" risk). The federal agency also urged all K-12 schools to require masking for students, employees and visitors, regardless of whether they've received an authorized COVID-19 vaccine or not.

For COVID-19 vaccine locations and information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov in Ohio and kycovid19.ky.gov in Kentucky.

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