Published: July 29, 2021
By: Adrian Dubose | LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–Although state health officials have approved student vaccine mandates at four private colleges, LSU and the University of Louisiana System do not plan to seek a similar mandate until federal regulators fully approve the COVID-19 vaccines now being distributed.
Federal approval is unlikely to come until well after classes begin next month, meaning that many of LSU’s 35,000 students and its faculty and staff members will depend on mandatory masking, air filters and some degree of social distancing to protect them from the surging Delta variant.
LSU’s new president, William Tate, said at an online forum Thursday that those mitigation measures were more substantial than at other Southern public universities.
“I hope that people will understand that it’s not even trivial getting to this point in this political climate,” he said.
But many of the hundreds of faculty members at the forum seemed dismayed by his comments and his unwillingness to push harder the vaccine mandate.
Dr. Jim Henderson, president of University of Louisiana system, said Thursday that his nine schools also planned to wait for the Louisiana Department of Health to add the vaccines to its college immunization schedules after they are fully approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Henderson said that waiting for full FDA approval would help limit the number of exemptions requests from students who do not want to receive the vaccines for religious or other reasons. The UL System has more than 90,000 students.
The LSU meeting came shortly after the Health Department released records showing that it had taken only a few hours to approve exemptions and allow vaccine mandates at the four private colleges: Tulane, Xavier, Loyola and Dillard.
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