LSU Board of Supervisors votes to urge La. health leaders to mandate COVID-19 vaccines at public colleges

(Source: WAFB)

Published: June 18, 2021

By: Adrian Dubose | LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU) – The LSU Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 Friday to urge the Louisiana Department of Health to add COVID-19 shots to a list of mandated vaccinations for college students once federal regulators give full approval to the vaccines.

The vote came after the board adopted an amendment to notify students that they could opt out of a mandate for health, religious or other reasons.

Students have long had the ability to opt out of other required vaccines, such as for measles or mumps, but few have realized that or done so. Faculty members fear that notifying students that they can ignore any COVID-19 requirement will undercut the school’s efforts to increase vaccination rates as more dangerous variants of the virus spread.

Tom Galligan, president of the LSU system, said 73% of the faculty and 57% of staff at the flagship campus in Baton Rouge have reported being vaccinated against COVID-19. However, only about 27% of the campus’s 35,000 students have reported being vaccinated.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 522 college campuses around the country have required the vaccine, with 221 of them being public institutions. Private universities in Louisiana, including Tulane, Loyola, Dillard and Xavier, say they will require their students to receive vaccines before the fall semester starts.

The Louisiana Legislature passed a bill recently banning state agencies, including public universities, from discriminating against people based on their vaccination status while the vaccines are still approved only for emergency use.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has expressed concern about the bill but has not said if he would veto it.

Pfizer and Moderna, two of the main COVID vaccine makers, have applied for full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, but that is not likely to come before school resumes in August.

Read more at WAFB9

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