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16% of CUNY Students Don’t Plan to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine, Survey Shows

A survey conducted last month by CUNY shows that while most faculty, staff and students have been vaccinated, some community members still have concerns about the vaccine, even though students who want to take classes in person this fall will be required to be vaccinated, pending full FDA approval of the vaccines.

According to the results of the survey, in which 55,000 CUNY community members participated, 87% of faculty, 70% of staff and 59% of students said they were either partially or fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, 3% of faculty, 9% of staff and 16% of students indicated no intention to get vaccinated, citing concerns about long-term side effects, the belief that the vaccine is too new and the desire to wait for full FDA approval; the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA.

“We hope these concerns are addressed with more information and awareness, and when the vaccines receive full FDA approval as expected in the near future,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in a Friday email to the university community.

More than half of faculty and staff said they felt very ready or somewhat ready to return to campus this fall.

Students, however, remain divided over fall plans. Half said they planned to take in-person or hybrid classes, while the other half planned to take only remote courses during the fall. Incoming freshmen were more likely to support on-campus instruction, with 76% of them hoping to take in-person or hybrid courses.

The survey findings come after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in May that CUNY and SUNY would mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students attending in-person classes in the fall, pending full FDA approval. At the time, Cuomo said only 19% of CUNY students were fully vaccinated.

The deadlines for students to get one of the three emergency-authorized vaccines before the fall semester begins are right around the corner. Students who want to attend in-person classes this fall or live in campus housing must get their first dose of Moderna by July 13, first dose of Pfizer by July 20 or a single dose Johnson & Johnson by Aug. 10. 

The fall 2021 term begins on Aug. 25.

Since February, several CUNY campuses have served as vaccination hubs as part of the #VaxUpCUNY campaign. Since then, more than 500,000 New Yorkers have been vaccinated at a CUNY-affiliated vaccination site. 

“As a University deeply embedded in New York’s DNA, we have a responsibility to educate and inform our community about the critical importance of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine,” Rodríguez said.

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