In an email broadcast, the University administration reenforced its vaccination mandate for all Hopkins affiliates on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The broadcast explained that failure to comply with the mandate would result in disciplinary action for staff and faculty and disenrollment for students.
All students must document compliance or receive a medical or religious exception by Sept. 30. Faculty and staff must do so by Oct. 1, and those who do not will face disciplinary procedures beginning Oct. 15. Students, faculty and staff that receive Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have until Nov. 1 to receive their second dose and will face disciplinary procedures beginning Nov. 15 if they fail to do so.
“We understand that termination or disenrollment is a serious step, but universal vaccination is crucial to our ability to safely support our mission of education, research, and service, and to keep our colleagues, their families, and our Baltimore neighbors safe,” the announcement stated.
Administration also described in the email that 98% of Hopkins faculty and 82% of students have been fully vaccinated according to the broadcast. Currently, only 4% of students are not fully vaccinated or are currently in the process of becoming fully vaccinated, according to Vice President for Communications Andrew Green.
In an email to The News-Letter, Green justified the University’s decision to pursue disenrollment procedures for noncompliant students.
“This step is consistent with peer institutions and congruent with our policies for faculty and staff,” Green wrote. “It comes after students have been given ample time and opportunity to comply with the vaccine mandate, which was announced for them on April 9.”
Freshman Katherine Budinger agreed with the University’s decision to require vaccination, arguing that such a requirement would ensure an eventual return to normalcy on campus.
“Before I got vaccinated, I was very much paranoid about COVID-19, but I like [the vaccine mandate] just because it's a security blanket,” Budinger said in an interview with The News-Letter.
Sophomore and international student Krishna Sargur praised the University’s decision, noting that such mandates already exist for other diseases in an interview with The News-Letter.
“We have vaccine mandates for other diseases, so COVID-19 is definitely one that should be on the list,” Sargur said.
Green explained that the University has on multiple occasions reached out to noncompliant Hopkins affiliates and will continue to do so in the near future.
“Those who continue to be non-compliant will receive an individual notification with steps that they can take to get vaccinated or apply for an exception, and continued technical assistance should they need help navigating the VMS,” Green wrote.
The broadcast reemphasized the University’s previous announcement that it would only accept vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Students who received vaccines that were approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) but not the FDA, such as Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Covishield or Novavax, are required to get revaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine.
Sargur expressed his concerns about the FDA-approved vaccine requirement, pointing to a lack of research about the side effects of getting revaccinated.
“There aren’t many documented studies on the effects of having two vaccines back to back,” Sargur said. “So I don’t know if it is the most informed decision to make all international students take FDA-approved vaccines if they have already taken WHO-approved vaccines.”
Freshman and international student Yujin Zhou described how it was difficult to handle the revaccination policy alongside the stress of moving in.
“I had two doses of Sinovac, and the second dose was 10 days before the school revised its revaccination policy to only [accept FDA-]approved vaccines,” she said. “Hopkins switched its plans one day before August 20 — international student move-in day — which added on to the revaccination health concerns of overdose. Several friends and I had an ongoing high fever within 24 to 48 hours of the Pfizer vaccination, and some also took the [tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis] vaccine on the same day.”
Zhou added that although she supports enforcement of the vaccine mandate, she hoped the University could have been more flexible about vaccinations for international students at the beginning of the semester.