Campus vaccination mandates look more and more likely as students prepare for Fall semester at UofM

Published: Aug. 22, 2021 at 9:18 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With reports coming out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to give the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine its full approval, some of the nation’s top medical officials believe more vaccine mandates are on the way for universities.

On Sunday, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy went on CNN’s State of the Union, stating an FDA approval could help businesses and universities impose vaccine requirements for students and staff.

In Memphis, Rhodes College, albeit a private institution, has already required COVID-19 vaccines for all students, aside from special exemptions.

Currently at the University of Memphis, masks are required, as well as other COVID-19 protocols.

As far as a potential vaccine mandate, there is a divide among students we spoke with Sunday afternoon.

“I would attempt to get a religious exemption from that,” said Jacob Simmons, a UofM incoming freshman. “I will not be taking the vaccine.”

“My answer might be a little biased, but mom’s a nurse. It’s just kind of looking out for my family, personally, because if everyone’s vaccinated, quite frankly, I think we’re a much safer campus,” said Caleb Wyrick, another UofM Incoming Freshman.

“I do think it should be recommended and we should get it, but you really can’t force it on anybody,” said UofM Senior Sarah Lawrence. “I’d hate for them to not be able to come on campus just because they’re not.”

Despite the surge of the Delta variant, students at the University of Memphis prepare to re-enter the classroom.

“It’s definitely a good feeling to be able to walk out your front door and go to class,” Wyrick said. “You know, you can’t beat face-to-face. You just can’t.”

“I’m really excited because I hated when we have to leave because of COVID,” Lawrence said.

For students like Lawrence, a Senior Psych Major, she’s returning to UofM with only one in-person class, the rest online, a schedule she never thought she’d had if asked two years ago she said.

We spoke with Lawrence on the first floor of UofM’s University Center, where COVID-19 vaccinations will be given on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lawrence, who is fully vaccinated, praised the UofM administration for creating a safe environment, in her eyes, over the course of the pandemic.

“Everything they do, they put the students first, and they’re making sure we’re staying safe,” she said. “They send out emails all the time. They make it accessible to students. I feel safe coming here.”

The CDC reports around thirteen million people ages 18 to 24 are fully vaccinated, which only comes to only 42% of that demographic’s population.

We reached out to UofM’s spokesperson on Sunday but were not able to receive any confirmation if the university intends to implement a vaccine mandate.

Right now, vaccinations at UofM are by appointment only at the University Center.

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