COVID-19 Vaccine Sign | Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian
Katie Chrosniak and Dylan Collison contributed to this story.
Wright State University (WSU) says that it has no plans to issue a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the near future, citing complexities in enforcing the mandate.
No Mandate Anytime Soon
Recently, universities across Ohio, including The Ohio State University, Miami University, the University of Cincinnati, Kent State University, Bowling Green State Universiy, the University of Toledo, Ohio University, Cleveland State University, Central State University and the University of Akron, have announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates due to the full approval of the Pfizer vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration and the rise in Delta variant cases.
WSU does not plan to follow this pattern, according to Dean of Students Chris Taylor.
“We don’t currently have [a COVID-19 vaccine mandate], and we don’t have any plans to roll one out anytime soon.”Chris Taylor, dean of students at Wright State
Currently, Youngstown State University, Shawnee State University, the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and Wright State are the only Inter-University Council of Ohio universities without a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. NEOMED currently has a student vaccination rate of 97%.
Taylor cited complexities in enforcing a mandate as the reason for this decision. He explained that students could claim exemption from receiving the vaccine for three reasons: medical, religious and conscientiously—or firmly—held beliefs.
“For strongly held personal beliefs, there is no way to challenge that,” Taylor explained.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) affirmed that it plans to leave vaccine mandates to the discretion of universities and local health departments, according to Jeff Robinson, director of communications for ODHE.
Vaccine Survey Results
The COVID-19 Task Force, headed by Dean Taylor, sent out a vaccine survey on Aug. 25 to gain insight on vaccination status among campus community members. The survey was anonymous and may not have definite, or entirely accurate, data.
Survey results for the Dayton Campus show that of the 3,836 participants, 78.24% of students, staff and faculty are vaccinated or plan to become vaccinated against COVID-19, with 21.76% against receiving the shot.
These numbers are reflective of the surrounding area. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 63.8% of Greene County adults received their vaccination as of Sept. 2.
Only 338 Lake Campus community members participated in the survey, with 35.21% reporting a positive vaccination status and 64.76% reporting a non-vaccination status.
Additionally, according to the CDC, 42.6% of Mercer County adults received the vaccine as of Sept. 2.
Goals set at a national and state level for vaccination rates failed to meet expectations over the last several months. One of the most famous goals promoted was for the United States to be at 70% fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4. As of Sept. 3, the CDC reports that 63.9% of people ages 18 and up are fully vaccinated in the United States.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, 58.74% of Ohioans 18 and older received the vaccine as of Sept. 3.
As of Aug. 30, WSU reported 40 active COVID-19 cases at the Dayton Campus and one case at the Lake Campus.
Student opinions regarding the university’s decision not to mandate the coronavirus vaccine vary.
“This is crazy. We already have active cases on campus, and with the ratio of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated, they could worsen. I would hate for someone to catch COVID-19 and die because the university didn’t want to mandate the vaccine,” Sydney Wyatt, a senior financial services major, said. “We are already required to get vaccines before becoming WSU students. This isn’t much different. If it keeps cases on campus at bay and classes in-person, then WSU should make a decision for the greater good.”
Emily Winkelman, a junior women, gender and sexuality studies major, agreed with the university’s stance regarding the vaccine mandate.
“I think that if everyone is vaccinated it [COVID-19] might go away but I’m worried that this vaccine is causing effects to some individuals, ” Winkelman said.
Not all WSU students feel strongly one way or the other about a campus vaccine mandate.
“I am fine with the university deciding not to mandate the vaccine, but I also am already vaccinated,” Cal Kahoun, a sophomore computer science major, said. “At the end of the day, it’s your body, your choice.”