Alexa Di Palermo and Rachel Dobkin, Staff Writer and Business/Culture Editor |
As of Aug. 23rd, SUNY policy is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all students using campus facilities, following the FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. All students must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 27th, otherwise, they will be academically dismissed.
It is understandable to have concerns about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but “millions of others, just like you, have done the research and put their doubts aside to protect themselves, their families, and their communities”, said Danielle McMullen, Chief of Staff to Acting President Craig.
Although many students might be apprehensive about the effects of the vaccine, serious side effects are unlikely, but long-term health problems from getting COVID-19 are far more reported. For answers to frequently asked questions, check SUNY Oneonta’s COVID-19 webpage.
Many students hope that a vaccinated campus will be one without masks and restrictions, but the Delta variant is far more contagious than any other known strain of COVID-19. McMullen said, “We anticipate that we will return to mandatory surveillance, testing of a percentage of our vaccinated student and employee population very soon.” Mandatory pool testing for 5% of the vaccinated student population will start on Monday, Sept. 13th.
For students in the process of vaccination, SUNY Oneonta is offering vaccine clinics on campus every Wednesday and Friday. The registration links can be found on the Fall 2021 planning webpage. These students who only have their first shot or are waiting the 14-day period after their second shot must be tested every week. There is testing in the Alumni Field House on Mondays from 1-8 p.m., Tuesdays from 9-12 a.m., and Sundays from 1-8 p.m.
Although only 1% of the undergrad population is in quarantine or isolation, the college needs to keep these numbers down to continue residential activity. This is done by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and social distancing. Not only will this prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also strep, colds, and other respiratory issues.
Richard Lee, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs, said, “National data and reporting make plain that most transmission of COVID-19 is not in classrooms, but in public, indoor spaces where people let down their masks—and their guard,” Dr. Lee goes on, “It is crucial that we just normalize mask-wearing in all indoor spaces on and off-campus for the time being.”
Even though 91% of students are vaccinated, only 55% of Otsego County residents are. When students go off-campus, especially in a crowded setting, they are risking exposure to COVID-19. Those vaccinated are not immune to COVID-19, therefore it is important for them to continue to be vigilant.
Even if you are fully vaccinated it’s important to get routinely tested to keep the campus community safe. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, then you must quarantine. If you are not fully vaccinated and you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you must quarantine while awaiting your test results. If you are fully vaccinated and exposed to someone with COVID-19 then you don’t have to quarantine, but you should get tested 3-5 days after exposure.