CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WROC) — SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said the state is still waiting on the COVID-19 vaccine to be fully FDA approved in order to require it on SUNY campuses.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced SUNY and CUNY students will need to be vaccinated to return to campus this fall, contingent upon full FDA approval.
“Let’s make a global statement,” Gov. Cuomo said during one of his COVID-19 briefings. “You cannot go back to school in person in September unless you have the vaccine. That will be a major motivation for people going back to school and if you have to get it by September, you might as well get it now.”
The governor said the by September timeline was subject to the FDA elevating the Pfizer vaccine past the current emergency use authorization.
While Malatras waits for the vaccine to be certified from emergency use authorization to full approval, he said they’re continuing their efforts to get all students and staff vaccinated. He said SUNY recently conducted a survey of 35,000 students and found 72% of them have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
“Our students want to come back. They want to be back to normal, so they’re getting vaccinated because it’s not just the right thing to do, they’re sick and tired of the Zoom life and they want to come back to campuses,” Malatras said.
He said he’s optimistic that regardless of mandatory requirement going into place by this fall, most students will get vaccinated on their own. He said students who received a dose on campus and went home for the summer will have no problem getting their second.
“Now they can get their first shot, go home from Brockport to Long Island, go to the pharmacy and get their second shot.”
He said they have plans to set up vaccine pods during move-in days. The main goal is to get as many students vaccinated as possible.
“Say you don’t get vaccinated till you come back in the fall, before you come in and sit in your dorm, why don’t you come into our pod and get vaccinated so you can be done with it once and for all.”
He said even before the vaccine is fully FDA approved and required, students will still be able to submit proof of vaccination to the campus to get them out of testing once they arrive on campus.
Malatras said 35 of the 64 SUNY campuses had vaccine pods on campus this past semester.
He said during the worst of the pandemic, applications were down 20% and now they’re only down by 8%.