UPDATE: On Aug. 23, 2021, the FDA gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and SUNY’s policy requiring all SUNY students to be vaccinated went into effect. Students have a 35-day grace period (until Sept. 27) to get fully vaccinated, with limited exceptions.
Original message below.
On Monday, May 10, Governor Cuomo announced that the SUNY and CUNY boards will require proof of vaccination for all students attending in-person classes in fall 2021, pending full federal approval of the vaccines.
New Paltz campus leadership is still waiting for additional guidance as to how this policy will be implemented on our campus and throughout the SUNY system.
We’re sharing the information we have now in hopes of supporting students and families with their planning for next semester. We will provide more updates as new information becomes available.
The vaccine requirement policy is contingent on the vaccines receiving full FDA approval
SUNY’s vaccine requirement will only go into effect once the COVID-19 vaccines receive full approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Currently, the three vaccines in use in the United States – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – have been granted Emergency Use Authorization, an FDA designation that allows certain new medical products to be used to address an emergency.
Products must prove they are safe through months of research data with thousands of study participants in order to receive Emergency Use Authorization. Getting full FDA approval is an even lengthier process that requires extended observation of research subjects.
As of this writing, Pfizer has initiated a review to seek full FDA approval for its vaccine, and Moderna has indicated it will do the same soon. It is possible that these vaccines will receive full approval by the start of the fall semester.
Learn more here about the difference between FDA approval and Emergency Use Authorization.
If enacted, this vaccine requirement helps us achieve our goal of a traditional, safe, in-person fall semester
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our community has worked together, and made sacrifices, to ensure the safety of all as our number one priority.
We succeeded in keeping cases low on campus and avoiding a pause and pivot to remote learning in the 2020-21 academic year. However, that achievement required us to temporarily suspend many elements of “the campus experience,” including full-capacity in-person classes, academic and co-curricular events, and other activities.
A COVID-19 vaccination requirement – increasingly common at colleges and universities across the nation – will help us take the next step toward a more normal on-campus environment. It would create new opportunities for us to reestablish a lively, exciting campus environment at SUNY New Paltz, while still protecting the health of all members of our community.
The state already requires college students to get other vaccines, and allows for religious and medical exemptions to those requirements
New York State public health law requires post-secondary students attending colleges and universities to demonstrate proof of immunity against certain diseases, including measles, mumps and rubella.
College students in New York can be exempted from these immunization requirements if a doctor verifies that a vaccine would be detrimental to the patient’s health (medical exemption) or if they hold “genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to immunization” (religious exemption).
We are awaiting more information about possible medical and religious exemptions to a COVID-19 vaccination requirement, and will share that information with our community as soon as we have it.
Learn more here about existing vaccination requirements and available exemptions for New York college students.
This requirement does not currently apply to employees
Neither SUNY nor the State of New York have indicated they will require vaccination for faculty and staff, though they continue to encourage all campus employees to get vaccinated if they have not already done so, as the vaccine remains our most effective tool in the fight against coronavirus.
If you’re already been vaccinated, you can let us know at my.newpaltz.edu
The College launched a new, voluntary vaccination submission process for students, faculty and staff in late April.
If you’d like to share your vaccination status with the College, you can get instructions for doing so at this link.