The Marshall University School of Medicine and Marshall Health announced Tuesday that the Coronavirus vaccine will be mandatory for all students and employees by Oct. 31. The decision followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine, as well as the announcement from the West Virginia Hospital Association that supports the requirement of vaccination for employees.
Marshall welcomed the vast majority of its students back to on-campus instruction last week for the first time since moving online in March of 2020, despite the uncertain outlook of the Corona Virus with the contagious Delta variant spreading throughout the United States.
Marshall modified its policies a week before students’ arrival to mandate masks in all indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. The policy had previously only mandated those not vaccinated to wear a mask indoors, except in classrooms, where they were still required.
Testing is required for all non-vaccinated students and employees with the University recently changing its testing method from saliva-based to an antigen nasal swab that can produce results in 15 minutes.
The student vaccination rate has risen from 59% at the start of the semester to 62%. Marshall administration has been encouraged by this number, but several administration officials have said a number closer to 70% would make it much easier to ease mask mandates. However, it is uncertain if the contagiousness of the Delta variant would require the rate of vaccination to be even higher. 84% of Marshall employees are vaccinated.
“As president, it remains my top priority to do my best to keep everyone healthy,” President Gilbert said. “We all know the pandemic situation remains fluid, and while we are in a near-normal environment now, it can change rapidly. We stand ready to adapt as the situation changes.”
On September 1st, West Virginia University Assembly will meet to vote on to mandate of the vaccine for all students and faculty. It is unknown whether Marshall has considered a mandate, or if they will consider one in the future.