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CUNY and SUNY to Require Vaccinations This Fall for In-Person Classes

Visitors Center at Hunter College
Photo by Robert Novo

CUNY and SUNY school boards will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all in-person students beginning this fall, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Monday.

“You must have a vaccine to come back in September,” he said. “If you must have a vaccine, get it now since you have to get it anyway.”

Cuomo said that there are not enough young people in New York getting the vaccine in comparison to other age groups and that the numbers must go up. About 25% of 16-25 year olds and about 35% of 26-34 year olds have been fully vaccinated, according to data presented at the press conference. In comparison, at least 40% of the people in each of the older age groups have been fully vaccinated.

In another press conference last Wednesday, Cuomo said that only 19% of CUNY students were fully vaccinated. However, New Yorkers between the ages of 16 and 29 only became eligible to receive the vaccine on April 6. 

CUNY and SUNY college students already must prove that they have received vaccinations for certain diseases, unless they have a medical or religious exemption. This new policy would do the same for the COVID-19 vaccination, but Cuomo said it requires the federal government to approve the vaccine beyond its emergency use authorization by September. Cuomo said he expects that approval in the near future.

Earlier this year, CUNY launched the #VaxUpCUNY campaign to encourage students, administration and other individuals to take the vaccine. Medgar Evers, York College, Queensborough, City and Lehman College are all vaccination sites. According to the #VaxUpCUNY website, those colleges have altogether vaccinated more than 350,000 New Yorkers.

Cuomo also encouraged private schools to require vaccinations this fall as well. 

“That will be a major motivation for people to get the vaccine,” he said. 

Some private schools, including New York University and Columbia University, have already decided to require vaccinations for all in-person students for the 2021-22 school year.

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