State Senator Brad Hoylman has introduced new legislation (S.6495) to require all students attending colleges and universities in New York State to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Maximizing vaccinations among college populations would help limit spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the surrounding communities, and would serve to protect immunocompromised students, faculty and staff who cannot safely receive a vaccine, Hoylman said.
This mandate would take effect 30 days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives standard approval for COVID-19 vaccines. The current vaccination effort is being allowed under what is known as “emergency use authorization,” before official F.D.A. approval of the vaccines.
College students in New York are already required by state law to be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been clear that the virus spreads quickly in high-density communal living situations, including colleges and universities. This past fall, during a lull in COVID-19 rates nationally, towns with open universities saw a 56 percent increase compared to three weeks before the start of classes.
“Since 1991, New York law has required all students taking in-person classes to be immunized against measles, mumps and rubella,” Hoylman said. “By extending this immunization requirement to COVID-19, we will be taking action to help ensure none of our universities become COVID-19 hot spots again.”
While college students themselves are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 infections, they can be major drivers of viral transmission due to living in congregate settings and frequently traveling to and from campus. Plus, young adults are more likely to have asymptomatic cases of COVID-19, making it harder to trace and quarantine.
As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility has expanded to include anyone age 16 and older, colleges and universities around the state are already requiring students to be vaccinated before the fall semester, including New York University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Ithaca College and Syracuse University.