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St. John’s University will require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus this fall

A St. John's University student received the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of St. John's University)

St. John’s University will require all students to be vaccinated before arriving on campus for in-person classes this fall.

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone 16 and over nationwide, the Catholic university will require all students to be vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination before returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester. Students enrolled in fully online degree programs won’t need to provide proof of vaccination.

In a university-wide message on April 21 announcing the requirement, university President Rev. Brian J. Shanley encouraged students to get their COVID-19 shots at their “earliest convenience.”

“The ongoing risk of serious health consequences for anyone who contracts COVID-19, along with the greater public health threat, are but two strong reasons in favor of getting vaccinated,” Rev. Shanley said. “The well-being and safety of you — our students, faculty, administrators and staff — is always the highest priority of St. John’s and is my foremost daily prayer for you all.”

Rev. Shanley noted there will also be exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students with proof of a documented medical condition or due to religious beliefs.

The university will accept any vaccine authorized for use in the U.S., which currently includes Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Students who have already received two doses of Pfizer and Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson already meet the requirement.

The university is reviewing guidelines for international students who have received other vaccines, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine, and will provide those students with guidance at a later date.

St. John’s University, which has its main campus located in Jamaica, also received Pfizer vaccine doses from the New York State Department of Health.

On April 27, they began distributing those doses to students free of charge at their Queens campus, with students in their Manhattan and Staten Island campuses also eligible for the vaccine.

When asked if the university may become a vaccine site for the general public, University Spokesperson Brian Browne said that while the university was approved to be a potential vaccine site months ago, this is the first batch of vaccines it has received.

“Our College of Pharmacy students are certified to administer the vaccine and are doing so for their fellow students,” Browne said.

Photo courtesy of St. John’s University
Photo courtesy of St. John’s University

Browne added that the vaccines from the state Department of Health came on the condition that they be distributed to students first, with any remaining doses made available to employees.

The vaccine requirement is limited to students, but the university is also encouraging employees to get vaccinated, according to Browne.

Photo courtesy of St. John’s University

St. John’s joins Columbia University, Cornell University and hundreds of colleges across the country that will require students to be fully vaccinated prior to attending in-person classes in the fall.

In New York, COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone who is 16 and older. Individuals can get a vaccine without an appointment at select New York City-run sites. For more information on vaccine eligibility, where to find vaccine locations or appointments, visit www.nyc.gov/VaccineFinder or call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692).

This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 30.

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