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Health

Ohio State University Requiring Students, Staff To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

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Dan Konik
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OSU joins Cleveland State University in adding the COVID-19 shot to the list of required vaccinations for students.

Ohio State University is requiring all students and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first public university in the state to do so after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer's shot.

OSU President Kristina Johnson made the decision through advice from a team of medical professionals from the College of Public Health and the Wexner Medical Center.

"The university is taking this step because vaccines are the safest and most effective form of protection against COVID-19. We are focused on enhancing the health and safety of our community. This step will increase our ability to support our students in continuing their educational experiences as well as help protect our current and the state’s future workforce," Johnson wrote in a letter students, faculty, and staff.

State lawmakers passed HB244 in June, which prohibited public K-12 schools and higher education institutions from requiring students and staff to get a vaccine that didn't have full approval by the FDA. This was through an amendment directed at the COVID-19 vaccine, which was only operating under an emergency use authorization before the FDA gave the Pfizer vaccine full approval on Monday.

Cleveland State University already announced the decision to require students, who live on campus, get the shot before the FDA's announcement. Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), who signed the legislation that included the ban on vaccines that don't have full FDA approval, said colleges and universities "have every right" to require COVID shots before the law takes effect in October.

The FDA's approval gives way for public universities to require the COVID-19 vaccine. OSU already requires students to get other vaccines, such as the immunizations for polio, MMR, and hepatitis B.

The fall semester at Ohio State University began on Tuesday. Leading up to the start of classes, the university required students to provide their vaccination status. The university says more than 70% of students had already received the COVID-19 shot.

Along with Ohio State University and Cleveland State University, other private institutions are requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students. This includes Kenyon College and Ohio Wesleyan University.