NEW YORK -- This week, State Senator Brad Hoylman (Manhattan-D/WFP) introduced new legislation (S.6495) to require all students attending colleges and universities in New York State to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Maximizing vaccinations among college populations would help limit spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the surrounding communities, and would serve to protect immunocompromised students, faculty and staff who cannot safely receive a vaccine. This mandate would take effect thirty days after the U.S. FDA gives standard approval for COVID-19 vaccines. College students in New York are already required by state law to be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.
From the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been apparent that the virus spreads quickly in high density communal living situations: colleges and universities are no exception. This past Fall, during a lull in COVID-19 rates nationally, towns with open universities saw a 56 percent increase compared to three weeks before the start of classes.
Senator Brad Hoylman said: “Since 1991, New York law has required all students taking in-person classes to be immunized against measles, mumps and rubella. By extending this immunization requirement to COVID-19, we will be taking action to help ensure none of our universities become COVID-19 hot spots again.”
While college students themselves are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 infections, they can be major drivers of viral transmission due to living in congregate settings, frequently traveling to and from campus, and because young adults are more likely to have asymptomatic cases of COVID-19, making it harder to trace and quarantine.
As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility under the current Emergency Use Authorization has expanded to include anyone age 16+, colleges and universities across New York State are already requiring students to be vaccinated before the Fall semester, including Cornell University, Columbia University, Ithaca College, New York University, and Syracuse University.