Northwest will not require students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning in fall 2021.
As vaccinations begin rolling out, some colleges and universities in the U.S. are requiring their students to be vaccinated before returning for the fall semester, according to an article from CNBC.
Northwest's Vice President of Student Affairs Matt Baker said the University will not be one of those schools.
The decision to not mandate COVID-19 vaccinations was made last week by the Northwest Leadership Team, which includes Baker as well as President John Jasinski and Provost Jamie Hooyman.
Baker said that the University decided not to require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and most likely wouldn’t require students to be vaccinated unless the state of Missouri required it.
“There’s a lot of ways campuses can go about this, and I don’t foresee Northwest requiring vaccinations,” Baker said.
Baker also said the University would most likely not mandate vaccines that aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration yet, which include the current COVID-19 vaccines.
The current vaccines being administered have an Emergency Use Authorization. The authorization is given to vaccines or other medical products not yet approved by the FDA during public health emergencies such as the current pandemic.
Public Health Consultant Gerald Wilmes has been an adviser for Northwest on the coronavirus pandemic since January and has worked with the Missouri Department of Education and Department of Health and Senior Services and other institutions in the state to keep the University updated on COVID-19 information.
The Missouri Department of Higher Education hosts weekly meetings with representatives of other colleges where they discuss issues such as vaccinations.
Wilmes said that none of the institutions that meet have decided to mandate students to get vaccinated so far but have discussed vaccines for the last several weeks and will continue to talk about it.
If or when colleges or the Departments of Higher Education and Health and Senior Services will mandate vaccines is unknown, according to Wilmes, but if the course of the pandemic started to change, schools would work to make a decision about vaccine mandates.
Wilmes said that there isn’t enough data to mandate vaccinations for students, citing low coronavirus cases on campus and in the state, but that data is subject to change.
Despite no mandate for students to get vaccinated at Northwest, Wilmes said it is still important to encourage people to get vaccinated and that it could be one of our best chances at getting close to a normal fall semester.
“Just because it’s not mandated doesn’t mean it’s not important,” Wilmes said.
Baker said that Northwest would continue to hold the vaccine clinics and inform students about vaccinations throughout the remainder of the spring semester.
“We won’t tell them to get vaccinated, but we want them to know it’s an option,” Baker said.