Indiana Daily Student

IU focusing on COVID-19 vaccination for all students without exemption, not on enforcing consequences

<p>IU graduate student Mary Sluder restocks COVID-19 tests Oct. 15, 2020, at Memorial Stadium. IU Chief Health Officer Aaron Carroll said Tuesday the university is doing everything it can to encourage students to vaccinate.</p>

IU graduate student Mary Sluder restocks COVID-19 tests Oct. 15, 2020, at Memorial Stadium. IU Chief Health Officer Aaron Carroll said Tuesday the university is doing everything it can to encourage students to vaccinate.

IU is focusing its efforts to encourage all students, especially those without an exemption, to receive COVID-19 vaccination, IU officials said.

IU announced May 21 that the COVID-19 vaccine is required for all students, faculty and staff in the fall 2021 semester. The university has a vaccine exemption request process.

The announcement stated that unvaccinated students who did not receive an exemption may face consequences such as cancellation of class registration and a loss of access to their CrimsonCards.

Unvaccinated students must receive weekly COVID-19 testing and are required to quarantine for 10 days if identified as a close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, according to IU’s website. Vaccinated students are not required to do either.

IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said there has been no reason to enforce these consequences so far, because the university has been trying to make sure students are either vaccinated or receive an exemption.

“We are working with students to make sure that these things don’t happen,” Carney said. “First of all, we want to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

If students have a reason to not receive the vaccine, including medical, religious or ethical reasons, Carney said the university is making sure they can receive an exemption.

“Right now we’re really just concentrating on making sure that we get everybody either vaccinated or that they get taken care of in other ways, so we can make sure that we keep a check on their health,” Carney said.

Although IU’s vaccine mandate received some backlash in June, Carney said most people viewed it as a necessary step to take toward safety within the pandemic.

As of Friday, 91.5% of people at IU-Bloomington have reported to have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

IU Chief Health Officer Dr. Aaron Carroll said the university is doing everything it can to encourage unvaccinated students to get the vaccine. IU is focused on reducing the risk of infection, he said, and not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine increases that risk.

“I’d like that risk to go down, for their own personal safety and the safety of those around them,” Carroll said.

With full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, IU English department lecturer Kurt Zemlicka said the Pfizer vaccine is now similar to other immunizations required of students. He said the university may feel more comfortable with being more forceful in requiring the vaccine.

While there are many reasons people give for why they are unvaccinated, Zemlicka said it is important to consider IU students who don’t have access to good health care. He said what these students think about the vaccine may be a result of unreliable information on social media rather than information from a trusted, professional healthcare source.

“We are living in a moment in society in which a lot of people do not have easy access to health care,” Zemlicka said.

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