Louisiana Universities Will Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines Following Pfizer FDA Approval
Following Monday's full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, Louisiana will now begin to instate vaccine and COVID-19 testing mandates.
Students attending the state's universities will soon be required to receive the vaccine, and Gov. John Bel Edwards is planning to mandate state workers be regularly tested COVID-19 if they have not been vaccinated, The Associated Press reports.
Louisiana is currently seeing one of the nation's largest COVID-19 surges, with 4,665 daily average cases and 2,672 daily hospitalizations, according to The New York Times. Only 40% of the population is currently vaccinated.
University system officials are currently planning the logistics of their vaccine mandate, which they said may not be enforced on Louisiana campuses for months. Louisiana State University, University of Louisiana and Southern University systems have all been approved by the state health department to add COVID-19 vaccines to their list of mandatory immunization requirements for students.
"We need to fully review the approval from the FDA, but plan to implement the mandate on campus," LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard told the AP in a text message. Ballard added that details "should be finalized soon."
The University of Louisiana system will immediately add the vaccine to the list of immunizations required of its 90,000-plus students, spokesperson Cami Geisman said.
The UL System, which includes nine campuses, will require students to provide proof of vaccination or opt-out paperwork — in the case of vaccine exemption — in order to register for classes between Oct. 1 and Nov. 22, according to Geisman.
"Students who are not in compliance will have a hold on their account and not be able to register for the next semester," she said.
At the main LSU campus in Baton Rouge, students will be required to undergo frequent COVID-19 testing if they do not receive the vaccine.
Edwards, whose administration is currently planning its testing mandate for state workers, praised the vaccine in a statement, saying the shot is "well researched, very safe and highly effective at preventing serious COVID illness, hospitalization and death."
Earlier this month, Edwards launched the Shot for $100 program, which incentivizes college students to get vaccinated by offering them $100 cash cards.
While Edwards' plans for requiring state workers to undergo COVID-19 testing have not been revealed just yet, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said the governor will make an announcement "in the not-too-distant future."
With yesterday's FDA approval, Pfizer became the first vaccine in the U.S. to receive the official designation. Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were previously approved for emergency use, and have not yet received full FDA approval.
"While this and other vaccines have met the FDA's rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product," acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
The approval marks a significant shift in the nation's approach to vaccination. With Pfizer's new status, organizations like colleges, hospitals and companies can now require the vaccine.
As of Aug. 24, 60.8% of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 51.5% of adults fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
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