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Saturday, September 18, 2021

No on-campus vaccine requirement after FDA’s approval of Pfizer

Article Originally Published by John Anderson on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by John Anderson on North Texas Daily

A sign showing check-ins for COVID-19 vaccine appointments points to a side door of the Student Health and Wellness Center on March 29, 2021.

The university has no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory following Pfizer’s full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA announced on Monday Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine, formally known as Pfizer-BioNTech, is the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive the administration’s approval. While the approval is for individuals 16 years or older, the vaccine is still available under emergency use authorization for those aged 12 through 15.

“Getting that full approval [from the FDA], we hope that [it] will provide individuals who may have had hesitancy regarding the emergency use the confidence to proceed with vaccination as a protective factor against contracting COVID-19,” said Alex Reed, Community Health division manager for Denton County Public Health.

Receiving FDA approval originally would allow for vaccine mandates in Texas, as Gov. Greg Abbott’s old vaccine mandate ban only applied to those with emergency use authorization. Abbott changed this policy when he signed executive order GA-39 on Aug. 25, banning mandates for all COVID-19 vaccines, including those with FDA approval.

While no campus vaccine mandates are in place or on the way, the university still encourages those eligible to get vaccinated.

“UNT officials continue to strongly encourage all members of our community to get vaccinated to slow the spread of the COVID-19,” said Amy Armstrong, Director of Communications for Student Affairs.

Alongside the FDA’s approval of Pfizer, more people at the university have been getting vaccinated in recent weeks.

“We have continued to see a steady increase in the number of UNT community members requesting a vaccine over the last few weeks as more people return to campus for the fall semester,” Armstrong said.

While the exact number of vaccinated students is hard to determine without required proof of vaccination, Armstrong said “more than 8,000 students have voluntarily shared proof of vaccination since July 19,” which totals to almost 20 percent of the student body.

The Student Health and Wellness Center currently stocks the Moderna vaccine, which is approved for emergency use. However, this does not mean there is no chance for Pfizer to be offered at the university.

“We are constantly evaluating the needs of the community with regards to our vaccine supply and will adjust as needed,” Armstrong said.

Some students do not have a favored choice as to which COVID-19 vaccine they receive, regardless of FDA approval.

“[I have] no preference, just as long as I get one,” Pablo Ramos Martinez, applied arts and sciences senior, said. “I’m planning on getting vaccinated because I’ve been getting sick, so I learned my lesson from not getting [the vaccine].”

While Denton County Public Health will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccines from different manufacturers, Reed said Pfizer is currently the only vaccine DCPH gives to individuals between ages 12 and 15.

Reed said 59.76 percent of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated within Denton County.

Regarding vaccinations, DCPH shared a similar sentiment to the university’s stance.

“Denton County Public Health strongly encourages all eligible community members to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the risk of COVID-19 and potential severe illness,” Reed said.

Featured Image: A sign showing check-ins for COVID-19 vaccine appointments points to a side door of the Student Health and Wellness Center on March 29, 2021. Photo by John Anderson.

Source: North Texas Daily

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