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CUNY, SUNY to Require Vaccines, Contingent on FDA Approval

May 11, 2021

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the City University of New York and State University of New York boards will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all in-person students starting this fall. Cuomo also said he would recommend private colleges require vaccination.

Cuomo said the requirement would go into effect only if one of the COVID vaccines receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, according to The Buffalo News. Right now, three vaccines are approved through the FDA's emergency use authorization process, creating a legal gray area for colleges.

SUNY’s chancellor, Jim Malatras, previously said he felt confident most SUNY students were voluntarily choosing to be vaccinated and that a mandate was not needed at this time. "If by the middle of summer, if we feel like our students have not gotten vaccinated enough to come back, we’ll talk about a mandatory vaccination program, but we’ll cross that bridge only if we have to get to it," he told Spectrum News in April.

In a statement Monday, Malatras praised the new vaccine requirement. "The State’s new vaccination requirement -- contingent on full FDA approval -- will be another step in restoring normal campus activity this fall," Malatras said.

Lola Brabham, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, an organization representing New York's private nonprofit colleges, also praised Cuomo's move. "It is imperative that there is a unified approach to public health, and we applaud our colleagues in the public sector for joining the many private colleges that have announced plans to require vaccination on their campuses," she said.

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