Published: April 19, 2021
By: Adrian Dubose, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s higher education officials are encouraging tens of thousands of students to get COVID-19 vaccines before returning for in-person instruction next fall, but they do not plan to require it.
Top officials at LSU and the University of Louisiana System are making their decisions amid a growing national debate about whether universities can or should force students, faculty members and staff to be vaccinated.
Forty-six universities around the country have announced plans to require all students to be vaccinated before they return in the fall, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. They include some of the biggest-name private schools like Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Notre Dame and Johns Hopkins as well as Xavier University in New Orleans.
Dr. Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana System, said that requiring the COVID vaccines would be complicated since federal regulators approved them under an emergency-use authorization and have not completed full safety investigations.
“Mandating fully authorized vaccines is difficult,” Henderson said. And with the COVID vaccines, “We are still learning about the long-term efficacy.”
“We will work diligently to influence as many as possible to be vaccinated, then work with public health partners on additional safeguards,” he said, noting that a state mask mandate remains in place.
LSU Interim President Tom Galligan released a statement late Monday saying that the school could not require vaccinations given the emergency-use status. He said he was encouraged that more than 10,000 students and employees had already gotten the vaccine, and he’s strongly urging the others to do so before the fall to provide a safer campus.
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