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University of Akron reviewing vaccine mandate in light of increased vaccinations, pending legislation

University of Akron
Posted at 11:09 AM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 19:12:10-04

AKRON, Ohio — The University of Akron is in the process of reviewing its COVID-19 vaccination policy for potential changes, stating Thursday that “good success has been achieved” in increasing vaccination rates.

A question about the university’s vaccination policy was raised during the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday, and university officials sent out a statement suggesting that they may soon change or get rid of their vaccination policy altogether.

On Aug. 27, the University of Akron announced that all students, faculty, staff and contract professionals would be required to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 13. The announcement was made days after the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“The policy was put in place at a time when vaccination rates were low and reported cases throughout the country and in the state were increasing significantly,” university representatives said in the statement Thursday. “Good success has been achieved in increasing vaccination rates, both on campus and in the community. In addition, state legislation is pending that could affect university policies in this regard.”

The vaccination has been completed in a total of 296,156 Summit County residents, which is 54.74% of the county’s population. Summit County currently ranks as the Ohio county with the eighth-highest vaccination rate.

In Summit County, the vaccination has been completed in 19.55% of those aged 0 to 19, and in 47.10% of those aged 20 to 29. The youngest age that any COVID vaccine is currently approved for is 12 — Pfizer’s vaccine currently has emergency use authorization for those aged 12 and up.

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Ohio Department of Health report showing vaccination completed data in Summit County

As of Thursday, Oct. 7, Summit County reported 422.4 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous two weeks, ranking it as the seventh lowest county in Ohio in terms of cases per capita. That number is still hundreds of cases higher than earlier this year. On July 8, Summit County reported just 16.5 cases per 100,000, with that number rising in all Ohio counties in the weeks since.

Click play on the visualization below to track the changes in cases per capita from the end of May through August

After an expansive bill that would ban the mandate of any vaccine stalled, the Ohio legislature is now considering a bill that would ban vaccine mandates. House Bill 435, introduced last week, takes a limited approach that would still allow colleges to enforce mandates. However, House GOP leadership has expressed discontent with this narrow bill, and House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) wrote a letter to members laying out plans to host two hearings with the House Commerce and Labor Committee this week “to further the goal of additional process.”

RELATED: Ohio House restarts efforts to ban vaccine mandates; Dem calls it ‘pandering’

While the University of Akron did not say Thursday that they planned to put an end to the vaccine mandate, their statement did say that any potential changes to the policy would be announced in the near future.

Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.

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