UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — One of Northeast Ohio's most prominent Catholic colleges has joined other schools in the area in mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.
John Carroll University announced Friday evening that all of its students, staff, and faculty will be required to inoculate themselves against the coronavirus by Nov. 15. School leaders made the decision following the FDA's move to fully authorize Pfizer's COVID two-dose vaccine for patients 16 and older.
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"We understand that some of you will not welcome this requirement," JCU President Alan Miciak wrote in a letter to the university community. "Our decision is motivated by our strong sense of community and our mission to care for others."
Medical and faith-based exemptions will be available, with more information on that expected to come on Sept. 15. The school has already had an indoor mask mandate in place regardless of vaccination status since Aug. 9.
The Catholic Church overall has encouraged people across the world to get vaccinated, with Pope Francis (a Jesuit, like the founders of John Carroll) calling it "an act of love." In the United States, some bishops and archbishops have even taken the step of explicitly prohibiting their priests from granting religious exemptions to members of the faithful.
According to Miciak, 58% of JCU's undergrad students are fully vaccinated, including 65% of those living on campus. The school joined Kent State University and the University of Akron Friday in announcing COVID-19 vaccine requirements, with the Ohio State University in Columbus also doing so earlier this week.
"Science and data show us that vaccinated individuals are less likely to experience serious or fatal complications and hospitalizations from the virus," Miciak said. "As members of the John Carroll community, we have a shared responsibility to keep one another safe. The most effective way to be together safely and provide the in-person experience that we all strongly desire is to be vaccinated."