WESTERVILLE, Ohio — Otterbein University announced on Thursday it will now require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The university said the rapid spread of the Delta variant and the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, including the FDA fully approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, factored into the decision.
Faculty and staff are expected to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29. Students were not provided a date, but they will not be able to register for the spring semester, which opens Oct. 25, if they are not fully vaccinated.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Otterbein has followed the advice of public health officials to make decisions in the best interest of the health and safety of our community,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dawn Stewart. “This, combined with our current mask mandate, will offer the highest level of protection to our community and allow us to continue to offer in-person classes and activities.”
Otterbein joins The Ohio State University who announced on Tuesday its own vaccine requirement.
The university says approximately 75% of students and 90% of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated.
“Franklin County Public Health applauds Otterbein University for their decision to require COVID-19 vaccination for students, faculty, and staff,” said Joe Mazzola, Franklin County Health Commissioner. “The number of new COVID-19 cases in our community continues to increase at an alarming rate and is attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant. This week in Ohio and Franklin County we have seen the highest single-day numbers of new cases and hospitalizations since the vaccine became widely available earlier this year.”
Otterbein also requires all students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear masks indoors in common spaces including classrooms, the library, hallways, stairwells and residence halls regardless of vaccination status.
The university says students, faculty and staff may request a medical or religious exemption from the requirement, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
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