All students, faculty and staff at the University of Cincinnati must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15, university president Neville Pinto announced Tuesday evening.
Pinto said the requirement is due to rising COVID-19 cases, which experts say are climbing "at a concerning rate both locally and nationally." He added in a message to the UC community: "Research shows vaccines are the most effective form of protection against COVID-19."
Students who do not comply by the deadlines will be required to be tested weekly for the remainder of the fall semester, and ultimately will be unenrolled from spring semester classes. Faculty and staff members who do not comply and are not approved for an exemption will be "subject to discipline," Pinto wrote.
UC is one of the largest employers in the Cincinnati region, with about 10,000 people on its payroll. It also is Ohio's second-largest university.
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 last week.
Xavier University announced a vaccine mandate for students last Wednesday. Miami University followed with its own announcement this week, requiring both students and staff get vaccinated by late November. Other Ohio universities have announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the last two weeks, including Ohio State.
Here's a list of colleges and universities requiring the vaccine.
Last week Pinto released a statement that the university was considering a vaccine mandate.
"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 at the time.
According to Pinto's message, students, faculty and staff must have received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15. The second dose must be administered by Nov. 15. Exemptions are allowed for medical reasons and "sincerely held reasons of conscience or religious beliefs," the letter reads.
"Our focus continues to be the wellbeing of our community. We believe this step best positions our university to meet the needs of our campus community," Pinto wrote. "To put it simply, the higher our vaccination rate, the less disruption we anticipate to our academic mission and the better we expect to be able to deliver a more dynamic campus experience.
"Still, it isn’t lost on me that some in our UC community hold a different opinion. Please know the decision to require a vaccine does not come easily, and I recognize that deeply personal reasons impact your thoughts and choices around this topic. As we move forward, we will continue to emphasize the common good while also listening closely to all of our communities."
More information about UC's vaccine mandate can be found on the university's website, or by calling UC's COVID-10 hotline at 513-556-2658.