University of Minnesota to require COVID-19 vaccine for students once FDA approves

Times Report
Crookston Times

The University of Minnesota, which includes the Crookston campus, will require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 pending full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U of M President Joan Gabel recently announced in a letter to students, faculty and staff. The university is elevating its "Get the Vax" plan to "Get the Vax 2.0" and mentioned concerns over the recent delta variant spike and increase in positive cases in the state and across the country.

"Your health and wellness remain our top priority, as is ensuring that we are together this fall," Gabel said in the letter. "This will allow us the best chance to have normal campus activity this fall and uninterrupted in-person, on-campus instruction."

An overview of what "Get the Vax 2.0" involves:

For Everyone:

"Our mask mandate continues for all indoor University spaces. We will regularly review this requirement against transmission data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health, and our own public health experts."

For U of M Students:

"Upon formal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of any COVID-19 vaccine (anticipated in the coming weeks), the University will add the COVID-19 vaccine to those immunizations already required for students, with appropriate exemptions. With the comfort associated with FDA approval, we will join a growing list of public colleges and universities across the country that are taking a similar approach, including, but not limited to, Michigan State University, Purdue University, the University of Florida, and many of the nation’s leading private colleges, including many in Minnesota. Details regarding the timing and grace period of the vaccine requirement, how to report vaccinations, and the consequences for non-compliance will be forthcoming, but in the interim, we strongly encourage all students to Get the Vax now. Remember, if you get the vaccine now, you can apply for a $100 incentive offered by the State of Minnesota. Questions about the vaccine? Dean Jakub Tolar of the UMN Medical School gives you the Vax Facts!"

For U of M Faculty and Staff:

"Our shared governance consultations are ongoing, but we anticipate you would confirm through an online attestation that:

    • You are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and that you will get tested if you are exposed to someone who has COVID or if you experience symptoms; or

    • If you have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccination, that you are testing via a means and frequency to be determined, testing if you experience symptoms, and testing if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19; and

    • If you receive a positive test result for COVID-19, you will follow CDC guidance, including isolating and participating in contact tracing efforts, and in return to work."

"We are following the same methodology and processes for Get the Vax 2.0 that we have utilized since the pandemic began 20 months ago," the letter continued. "We have engaged the expertise and counsel of our campus communities, relied on state and federal guidance, analyzed public health data, science, and accompanying trends, and adjusted to make 'graceful pivots' as new information and circumstances dictate."

"As we pivot again to protect your health and safety and keep us on-campus and in-person this fall, your commitment to our shared safety and process has been exemplary. We understand that this is a challenging decision for our community, but our interests are first and foremost the health of our students, faculty, and staff."

President Gabel, the Senate Consultative Committee, and other University leaders will host a virtual Town Hall August 18 at 9 a.m. for anyone with questions about Get the Vax 2.0 or the fall semester.

Protect the Nest image from UMN Crookston