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Ohio State president urges students, staff to get vaccinated before returning to campus

Vaccination statuses must be reported by August 5.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Of all the lessons to be learned from the experience of leading a university through a pandemic, Kristina Johnson said the most significant one she learned was the importance of making a decision and timing it right.

“Not too soon and definitely not too late,” she said.

Johnson, the president of the Ohio State University, said when making any decision safety is top of mind.

However, the decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine, is one school leaders are leaving up to students and staff. This, as all available brands are still under emergency use authorization.

In a sit-down interview Friday morning, Johnson would not say whether that would change once the vaccines do receive full use authorization from the FDA.

“Right so we have a task force that's working on return to campus. And it meets Friday mornings and Tuesday mornings and what we talked about [Friday] is the fact that we're at 75%, our vaccination rate,” she said. “Really encouraging people to get vaccinated."

Students and staff are required to report their vaccination status by August 5.

“If we know who is not vaccinated and there’s an outbreak, then we know where we can focus to keep those faculty, students safe,” she said.

However, according to the latest from the CDC, there's evidence to show even vaccinated people can spread the highly transmissible delta variant. 

When it comes to a new school year and events with large crowds, Johnson said she is concerned about safety.

“Biggest concern of course is safety. Put safety first. And that’s my number one guiding principle,” she said. “As we think about events being back in the Shoe with 100,000 people it’s helpful that it’s outdoors, the best thing we can do is get vaccinated.”

Johnson hopes to see the campus vaccination rate hit 90% and is urging those who have not yet to make the decision to get the shot.

“That's the best thing that we can do.”

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