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SUNY No Longer Requires Students to Get COVID-19 Vaccination

By Vince Gasparini | September 4, 2023

Students who plan to attend State University of New York (SUNY) schools no longer need a COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend. SUNY announced the end of the mandate in a press release on April 11, 2023.

The SUNY System Administration Building in Albany, NY

Photo Credit: Matt H. Wade

The mandate began during the Fall 2021 semester, and officially ended at the conclusion of the Spring 2023 semester. The Fall 2023 semester is the first semester in over two years since students were not required to have a COVID-19 vaccination.

“State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today [April 11] announced that a COVID-19 vaccine will no longer be mandated for students to attend SUNY’s 64 campuses… which coincides with the official end of the national public health emergency by President Biden’s administration yesterday [April 10],” the press release reads from SUNY.

The decision was made at the recommendation of SUNY’s Public Health Expert Advisory Committee. The committee is made up of physicians and experts in infectious disease, public health, and neuroscience. State health officials were also involved in this decision.

The end of the mandate came almost immediately after President Joseph R. Biden announced that the national emergency surrounding COVID-19 had ended. Despite the end of the mandate, SUNY still strongly encourages its students and faculty to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and other diseases such as influenza and monkeypox.

“While it is reassuring to see the progress we’ve made against the COVID-19 pandemic, precautions are still very important to ensure that progress continues,” State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “The Department reminds people that we are fortunate to have easily accessible, safe and effective vaccines.”

The vast majority of SUNY students are New Yorkers. 77.5% of 18-25-year-olds and 79.8% of 26-34-year-olds in the state have completed their primary series of vaccination according to the press release.

Some students believe that the existence of a vaccine mandate across SUNY schools is still necessary, especially with the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. The CDC reported a 18.8% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations across the country between August 13 and August 19, and a 21.4% increase in deaths in the same week.

“I think with COVID resurfacing it was a necessary precaution to have the requirement of a vaccine,” UAlbany junior Sarah Jamil said.

However, other students are not as worried about the end of the vaccine requirement.

“I think that it’s fine that they ended the mandate,” UAlbany freshman Chris Thielman said. “We are at a point where if one person gets COVID we won’t really have to worry about the entire school getting COVID.”

Despite the end of the requirement of the COVID-19 vaccine, SUNY still plans to make any necessary policy updates based on guidelines from health officials. SUNY campuses will also continue to keep track of conditions in their areas and make decisions accordingly.


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