Following FDA approval, colleges expanding vaccination requirements

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Following the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, some local colleges are adjusting their vaccination requirements.

The full authorization of the first COVID jab, opening the door for schools to expand their mandates.

“It’s one of the layers in addition to all the other steps that the university is taking so we can welcome back our full population here, both residentially and academically here in the classrooms,” said Stephen Conard, UAlbany’s Emergency Management Coordinator.

Numerous colleges around the Capital Region already had some requirements in place prior to the FDA’s full approval.

At UAlbany, those coming back to live on campus had to be at least partially vaccinated before moving in. But now, all students will be required to roll up their sleeves.

“We have a massive, massive high compliance rate of our students that are either partially or fully vaccinated. So I anticipate a similar piece for our off-campus students,” Conard explained, noting a large portion of the student body was vaccinated before the mandate took effect.

All UAlbany students will need to get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson jab, or their first dose by next Tuesday and complete their vaccine series by September 28th. There’s also a requirement to upload proof of first and second doses days after their respective deadlines.

While UAlbany is expanding their mandate, Siena College will begin to enforce it.

“This absolutely allows us to address the safety piece of it, and that allows us to turn the page, that we can have a flourishing experience here on campus,” said Siena College President Chris Gibson.

The college told students back in May that a vaccine requirement would happen once the FDA fully authorized a COVID vaccine.

“We went the last six, seven weeks and only had a couple cases for our students, because we saw increasing numbers of our student body be vaccinated,” Gibson explained.

All Siena students and staff must be vaccinated, with students getting their first shot by August 30th and staff by September 1st.

With an anticipated 99% vaccination rate, the school will be mask-optional this fall for those who are fully vaccinated. Faculty will have a list of students required to wear a mask. Students returning who haven’t completed their vaccine series will have to submit a negative PCR test within 72 hours of coming back to campus.

Meanwhile, UAlbany is requiring masks indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. The university will also conduct surveillance testing of those who haven’t been fully vaccinated.

Both schools are accepting exemptions to the requirement for health and religious reasons.

UAlbany students who do not have an exemption and refuse the vaccine will not be allowed on campus or inside a university building, and will be deregistered from classes.

Similarly, any Siena College student not meeting an exemption that doesn’t get the vaccine will be disenrolled.

UAlbany’s fall semester began Monday while classes are set to begin at Siena on September 7th.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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