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AMES — Although Iowa’s three public universities are planning a return to mostly in-person learning next fall — and touting widespread COVID-19 vaccine availability in making that happen — Board of Regents President Mike Richards on Wednesday promised the institutions won’t require its students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated.
“I'd like to make it clear that while we continue to strongly encourage members of our campus community to get vaccinated, the regents universities will not be mandating vaccinations for any students (or) employees now or for the 2021-22 academic year,” Richards said during the board’s Wednesday meeting in Ames.
The University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa in recent weeks have undertaken initiatives to get students and employees vaccinated.
UNI and Iowa State this week are kicking off mass vaccination clinics — although UNI’s hit a snag Tuesday when federal regulators advised pausing use of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Although the UI hasn’t scheduled a mass on-campus clinic, it is vaccinating students and employees by appointment.
Richards on Wednesday acknowledged other campuses nationally are mulling vaccine mandates, with some already imposing them — like Duke University, Rutgers University and the University of Notre Dame.
“I strongly believe in the effectiveness of the vaccines,” Richards said. “We will continue to make them available, and we encourage people to get vaccinated. But they will not be required at our three universities.”
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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