CLEVELAND — Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that Ohio will start vaccinating college students on campus next week as part of his efforts to ramp up the state's vaccination rate.
"We are going to try and vaccinate every college student in the state who wants the vaccine," DeWine said.
Although fewer young people get sick with COVID-19, the governor says college students are "significant" carriers of the virus because they interact more frequently with others.
"It is a strategic move to vaccinate them on campus before they get out in early May, get out in the summer, and scatter throughout the state and throughout the country " he added.
College students weigh in
So what do Northeast Ohio college students think about the governor's plans? Well, it depends who you ask.
"Of course," Jake Smith, a freshman at John Carroll University, said of getting the shot. "It definitely will make me want to go to campus and it will make campus a better place for everybody."
"I personally don't want it," Amira Marshall, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University, countered. She says she won't get vaccinated unless she's forced too.
"If I have to get it, I will get it because I want to stay around campus and be on campus," she added.
CSU announces Fall plans
The governor's announcement comes the same day Cleveland State University announced it's fall 2021 plans, which President Harlan Sands is calling "near normal."
"It's really a full-fledged plan to open up our campus, similar to what we had before the pandemic hit," Sands told 3News.
The president says he's confident because Cleveland State had one of the lowest COVID testing positivity rates in the nation for urban universities and successfully held more than 40% of its classes on campus this past spring. Given the increasing availability of vaccines, CSU expects that by late August, all faculty, staff, and students will be vaccinated and ready to return. Vaccinations will be required for all students living on campus.
"The more folks that are vaccinated, the better we'll be able to stick to our plan," Sands said.
DeWine said his effort will include state universities as well as private schools. Sands says those discussions have already begun.
"We've talked collectively to the governor, and we're in the midst of making plans to get the vaccines out to students, specifically the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, starting in the next few weeks," Sands said.
Others Ohio schools weigh in
3News reached out to a dozen Ohio colleges and universities, asking for their preliminary fall plans and their policies about vaccinating students. Below are their responses:
John Carroll University: "We continue to highly recommend that all members of the John Carroll community receive the vaccine. If the State of Ohio makes the vaccine available to John Carroll, we will provide it directly to our students."
University of Akron: "The University of Akron has not yet made any decisions regarding whether or not vaccines will be required for fall." - Christine Boyd, APR
The Ohio State University: "Ohio State will not require the vaccine. Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to do so. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective. The government does not mandate vaccination for individuals." (See the FAQs here)
Kent State University: "While vaccinations are not a requirement, Kent State University strongly encourages all members of the university community to get a COVID-19 vaccine when they are eligible. The Ohio Department of Health offers an online site to find vaccination locations in all counties and to register for an appointment at locations throughout the state. Having our population vaccinated against COVID-19 is part of the university’s strategy for safely returning to more traditional campus operations for the 2021 Fall Semester. The strategy also includes following the Flashes Safe Eight safety principles, wearing face coverings and practicing physical distancing." - Eric Mansfield
Baldwin Wallace University: "BW has not made a decision about fall. Right now, we are focused on encouraging our students to get the vaccine at their earliest opportunity. We expect to have more to say when we find out precisely how and when vaccines will be delivered to Ohio campuses." - Shawn Smith Salamone
Miami University: "Like many universities across the country, Miami University is evaluating how to best protect our campus community from COVID-19. We will begin rolling out vaccine clinics in April and expect to continue to offer opportunities for vaccination throughout the summer and when students return this fall. We do not anticipate requiring a vaccine until after there is final FDA approval, but we do encourage all eligible students, faculty, and staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them. As we have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami will work with Ohio’s Inter-University Council, which represents Ohio’s state institutions, when reviewing new requirements." - Carole Johnson
Bowling Green State University: "Following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's announcement earlier today, Bowling Green State University will receive single-dose COVID-19 vaccines that will be reserved for BGSU students in April. These vaccines will be administered prior to the end of the semester to allow students to get vaccinated before leaving campus. BGSU will host a series of free, student-only Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine clinics on campus at the Perry Field House starting Thursday, April 8. Additional single-dose vaccination clinics for BGSU students will be held Thursday, April 15 and Thursday, April 22. BGSU encourages students, faculty and staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible at a location that is convenient for them."