COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Colleges and universities across the county have started to announce coronavirus vaccine mandates for students attending classes.
One of the first schools to announce mandatory vaccination for students was Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, effective this fall. The vaccination mandate has some exceptions, including medical and religious reasons as well as attending all-online classes.
Since the announcement in March, many schools have followed suit including Cornell University, the University of Notre Dame, Northeastern and Syracuse University.
University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi said MU officials have discussed coronavirus vaccine requirements. Basi says as of right now, coronavirus vaccines for both staff and students are highly encouraged but not mandatory.
"We know that this is a huge tool in the fight against COVID-19," Basi said. "We want you to get vaccinated and MU Health has many appointments and the vaccine has become more and move available every week."
MU Health Care is hosting a mass vaccination event at Faurot Field from Thursday through Saturday and has nearly 7,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. As of Tuesday afternoon, Eric Maze of MU Health Care said there were hundreds of openings for Friday and Saturday to sign-up for an appointment.
Basi said it's convenient for students to schedule their vaccines now.
"It's important that students are signing up now in the next week or two so that they have the time with the second dose to get that before they leave and don't have to worry about trying to find that in a different location which can be a challenge, we've heard," Basi said.
Basi said the university has put out information on social media and around campus about staying safe during the pandemic and getting a coronavirus shot.
Columbia College spokesman Sam Fleury said the college is evaluating its options regarding requirements for vaccination and is encouraging the campus to get vaccinated. Fleury said the college regularly sends information about coronavirus vaccinations to students and faculty.
Boone County has recently seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in the 18-24 age group, according to the county health department.
In a release on Tuesday, the department said that age group made up nearly 48% of new cases last week despite being 19% of the county population. It was the highest percentage of cases in this age group since Sept. 7, the department said.
MU reported 31 active student cases as of Monday and active cases on campus have been rising this month.
The Columbia/Boone County Health Department announced an extension of the current county health order until May 12 because of an increase in COVID-19 cases and the discovery of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 which is spread more easily than other COVID-19 strands.
According to the state dashboard, Boone County is the most-vaccinated jurisdiction in the state with 38.9% of the population receiving at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Nearly 114,000 doses of the vaccine have been given out in Boone County, according to the dashboard.
Pulaski is the least-vaccinated jurisdiction in the state with 9.3% of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
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