Xavier University is the first higher education institution in the Greater Cincinnati region to announce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
All students must be fully vaccinated prior to the start of the spring 2022 semester, the university announced Wednesday evening. Fall classes began Aug. 16.
“In my nearly two months of serving as President of Xavier University, it is abundantly clear to me that a deep commitment to one another and to the common good defines this community," president Colleen Hanycz wrote in a Wednesday letter to students. "Sometimes, that spirit leads to self-sacrifice as we set aside our own individual wants and desires, in favor of the needs of the collective community. It is with that spirit in mind that I write to you with an important message.”
The letter states the mandate is due to the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.
"Young and otherwise healthy people are also seeing a more direct impact from this variant," the letter reads. "COVID-19 vaccination is key to maintaining the health, safety, and normal operations of our community."
The mandate does not apply to staff, university spokesperson Doug Ruschman said, though 85% of Xavier's faculty and staff are already fully vaccinated. The university says 77% of its student body is fully vaccinated.
Ohio's public schools and universities can now require COVID-19 vaccines for staff and students after the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine this week.
On Tuesday, Ohio State announced it would require Buckeyes to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15. Miami University and the University of Cincinnati have since said they are considering COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
"Learning how other schools and states navigate this issue is helpful. In the end, though, we must make the decision that works best for our campus community," Pinto wrote in a tweet. UC is one of the largest employers in the Cincinnati region, with about 10,000 people on its payroll.
At Xavier, the COVID-19 vaccine now joins other required student immunizations, such as MMR, Meningococcal Conjugate (ACWY), and Hepatitis B.
"Vaccination aligns with our Jesuit Catholic mission and helps protect student health and well-being and that of the Xavier and broader communities," Xavier's Wednesday letter reads.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be necessary to register for spring classes in mid-October, officials said. Students can schedule a free vaccination appointment on campus by calling 513-745-3022 and choosing option 3.
Students should be aware of the following deadlines, according to Xavier officials:
- Prior to Oct. 18, 2021, students will be required to show proof of having received either full or partial vaccination. Students who do not demonstrate this will not be permitted to register for classes for the spring 2022 semester.
- By Jan. 3, students must complete their second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna and verify their full vaccination.
“One of the most amazing qualities of our Xavier community, grounded in the gifts of our Ignatian heritage, has been a willingness – an enthusiasm, in fact – to support the needs of our collective family, even when that might require denying our own preferences. We remain convinced that we will support those needs best by taking these actions," Hanycz said. "This community has done extremely well to support our students and one another through this global pandemic. This is but another chapter in that book.”
More information regarding Xavier's COVID-19 vaccine requirement can be found on the university's website.