Penn State Still Won't Require COVID-19 Vaccination Despite FDA Approval For Pfizer Shot
Penn State said it still won’t mandate vaccinations after the Food and Drug Administration officially approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Monday. The vaccine has been available under Emergency Use Authorization since December.
That’s despite Penn State President Eric Barron in March citing lack of full FDA approval as a reason the university would not require the vaccine.
“We won’t see a change from the President's focus on the current approach as the best way to achieve the goal of high vaccination rates,” university spokesperson Wyatt DuBois said in an email.
“We think the FDA approval on the Pfizer vaccine will help ease the nervousness some feel about getting the vaccine and contribute to even higher vaccination rates in our community,” he said, adding the university is seeing growth in proof of vaccinations uploaded.
In a press release, Penn State said of the approximately 14,000 students who moved into University Park residence halls this past week, 2,639 of them were required to take a COVID-19 test before moving in because they had not yet provided vaccination proof. About 83% of students living on campus have provided proof as of Monday, the statement said.
So far, 18 students required to be tested were positive. They have to be isolated on campus or return home for ten days.
A group of faculty members are teaching via Zoom during the first two days of the fall semester to protest the lack of a vaccine mandate from the school administration. Penn State said that could jeopardize accreditation requirements and that the combination of its testing and indoor masking policies will keep the community safe for an in-person semester.
Penn State said 88% of University Park students who responded to an anonymous survey said they are partially or fully vaccinated. In Centre County, just over half of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Penn State reported less than one percent positivity rate as of the latest data available. It will update a COVID dashboard every Tuesday and Thursday.