Lafayette, LA - As the fall semester quickly approaches, where do things stand as far as if or when UL-Lafayette will make covid-19 vaccines mandatory for students to attend school?
President and CEO of the University of Louisiana system, Jim Henderson says they do plan on making the covid-19 vaccine a requirement.
"We did ask the board of regions as the key entity working with the Louisiana Department of Health to prepare to add the covid-19 vaccine to the list of mandated vaccines," Henderson said in an interview.
However, he says they will require students to get the covid-19 vaccine only after the FDA approves them for full use. "Right now it’s under emergency use authorization so it’s highly problematic if not forbidden for a public entity to mandate the vaccine," he said.
The state legislature recently passed a bill that bans state agencies, including public universities, from discriminating against people based on their vaccination status while the vaccines are still under emergency use. But once the FDA approves them for full use, there will still be exceptions.
"That still comes with the exceptions right," Henderson said. "If it’s for medicinal reasons, if you have a religious or philosophical opposition to that, you still have those exceptions available."
College aged students between 18 and 29 account for less than 11 percent of vaccinated people in Louisiana. Henderson says he believes it’s in part due to that demographic being less impacted by the virus, adding that it will be a game changer once the vaccines are approved for full use.
"That full use authorization. That testament from the food and drug administration that they’ve gone through all their safety protocols. We think that’s going to be the game changer and the vast majority of people will end up getting vaccinated at that point," he said.
Moderna and Pfizer have both recently applied for full use authorization from the FDA, but the approval is unlikely in time for the upcoming fall semester.