MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As expected, the University of Minnesota will add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccines for all enrolled students after the FDA fully approved the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech. Soon, its 50,000-plus students will need to confirm their vaccination status.
Earlier this month, the university announced it would require the vaccine for students once any vaccine received full approval. On Monday, the FDA announced it granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 years of age and up.
University officials said Monday that all students systemwide will receive an email this week with instructions on how to confirm their vaccination status. Officials say completing the form will be an "easy, quick" process. The change in plans is due to "the recent delta variant spike and increase in positive cases in our state and across the country," according to President Joan Gabel's letter.
The university's faculty and staff will be expected to attest to their vaccination status beginning Tuesday. They'll also need to complete an online form. U officials say that "exemptions may be requested for religious or medical reasons," and that they will have more information for students later in the week. More information can be found here.
"We are so grateful to all who are joining us and so many others in committing to our greater good. Your actions to get vaccinated, wear a mask while on campus, and take other health precautions will help keep you and our entire community safe as we begin our fall semesters," the university said in the announcement.
Faculty and staff won't have a vaccine mandate, but they will have to let the University know their vaccine status. Faculty and staff who are not vaccinated will have to submit to testing on a regular basis.
Students WCCO spoke with Monday, including Nathan Klaers and Lydia French, say they like both the U's vaccine mandate and the mask mandate because it gives them a better chance of having in-person classes.
"I don't have any problem with that. I'm already vaccinated," Klaers said.
"I think it's a really good thing," French said. "If we're gonna be in-person, we all need to be vaccinated."
U officials have not made it clear what happens to students who don't get vaccinated and fill out the necessary forms. The University of Virginia this weekend disenrolled almost 250 students who had not filled out the proper vaccination forms.
French says she thinks there are going to be students who won't go along with the requirement, and other students say there should be consequences, and accommodations.
"They should provide some other forms or means of education, such as online learning," student Brendan Lindstrom said.
No one from the U was available to answer WCCO's questions Monday about the mandate, and if precautions will be taken for students who will get the vaccine now but won't have the second shot and full protection for weeks.
The University of St. Thomas, College of St. Benedict and St. John's University have said they will require a COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty and staff returning in-person.
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