Cuomo says New York public colleges will force students to get vaccinated

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference. | Spencer Platt / AP Photo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that State University of New York and City University of New York will require Covid-19 vaccination for students returning this fall, assuming the federal government approves fully vaccines.

“If you have to have a vaccine, get it now if you have to do it anyway,” Cuomo said. “I also encourage private schools to do the same. Let’s make a global statement: you can’t go back to school in September unless you have a vaccine. That will be a major motivation to get the vaccine.”

Cuomo added that the requirement would be contingent on standard approval of the vaccine, which is being distributed under emergency clearance from the federal government. Pfizer and BioNTech, which are being distributed under an emergency provision for those 16 and over, sought full approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

“They should give him full approval before September, otherwise SUNY, CUNY couldn’t mandate.” If it doesn’t have full approval, you can’t legally mandate… we think they will in the near future, ”he said.

Approximately 394,000 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in the SUNY system. CUNY serves approximately 274,000 students on campuses in New York City’s five boroughs.

Some New York schools, including top private schools like Cornell University and New York University, already require Covid vaccinations for students returning this fall, with medical and religious exemptions.

The two California state university systems have issued a similar mandate, although it also covers faculty and staff.

The context: The move comes as the state hopes to improve vaccination rates among young people. SUNY, which spans 64 campuses across New York City, had tried to vaccinate all students on campus by this summer.

That goal was shattered by the temporary Johnson & Johnson vaccine hiatus last month, a day after the state announced 21,000 doses allocated to the school system. Despite this, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said the system would continue to move forward with its goal while making adjustments to account for additional complications, although he said at the time. that officials would not consider a vaccine mandate until early summer.

Pressure to demand vaccines at public colleges and universities has also grown in recent weeks, especially within the New York City legislature. Senator Brad Hoylman introduced a bill that would add the Covid-19 vaccine to other doses required for private and public New York City students, a development first reported by POLITICO last week. It would also come into effect after standard approval of the vaccine.

Cuomo did not explicitly note medical or religious exemptions for the intended tenure of SUNY and CUNY, as other colleges have done in rolling out their respective immunization requirements. He said he would propose legislation “that says you can’t discriminate against a person who has a vaccine.”

In other news: In a series of other developments at the governor’s press conference, Cuomo also announced that New York is “waiving the residency requirement on vaccines.”

“Anyone from out of state can get the vaccine in New York,” he said at the press conference. “So if you are a tourist and you come to New York, we will give you a vaccine. ” The announcement came just days after New York City unveiled its plans start vaccinating tourists.

Cuomo also announced that eight Metropolitan Transportation Authority sites will offer Johnson & Johnson vaccines Wednesday through Sunday. People vaccinated at pop-up sites will be able to claim a free seven-day MetroCard or two one-way tickets to Long Island Rail Road or Metro North.

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