Gov. Mike DeWine announced at a news conference Mar. 16 that all Ohioans 16 years and older will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine starting Mar. 29. This latest development comes as Ohio is expected to receive a larger number of vaccines than the state has previously received, according to DeWine.
Last week, Claire Milano reported on this website that Ohio University will be administering vaccines through mobile clinics for eligible age groups, and the site is one out of 15 announced by DeWine. While OU students will have easy access to a vaccination site on Mar. 29, this does not mean that everyone will want to take it. That prompts a crucial question: Will OU require a COVID-19 vaccine for in-person students?
OU has not released an official stance on the issue yet, but the administration has released a voluntary vaccine registry for those who have already been fully or partially vaccinated, and a vaccine interest survey to gauge demand for vaccines if OU is able to provide them in the future.
OU already requires evidence of Hepatitis B and Meningitis vaccinations for a student living on-campus, so it would not be a surprise if a COVID-19 vaccination requirement is in the works. Requirements like these are legal for colleges and universities – and even employers – to enforce, as recently stated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Education.
A recent survey of 1,000 college students found that 71 percent of students believe colleges have the right to require vaccination before students return to campus. Based on this statistic alone, it seems that students will mostly be willing to receive a vaccine if given the opportunity, and OU may only consider requiring it if it is necessary to achieve herd immunity and return to normal.