KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Will colleges and universities in the Kansas City region require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes widely available?
Higher education officials who responded to a FOX4 survey said it’s too early to make that decision right now.
“At this time, Truman has not deemed it a requirement for students to take a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Travis Miles, director of public relations for Truman State University in Kirksville. “The university is in ongoing consultation with medical professionals and health officials about the vaccine.”
Kansas State University hasn’t made a decision either.
“We do not anticipate vaccines being widely available during the spring 2021 semester and will make the decision following CDC and KDHE guidelines,” KSU spokeswoman Michelle Geering said said.
Frontline health care workers in Kansas and Missouri received the first COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday.
Federal officials predict there will be enough doses to inoculate 20 million Americans this month. Health care workers and residents of long-term facilities are first in line for the life-saving vaccine.
Until distribution is more widespread, the 13 college and university officials who responded to FOX4’s questions said they’re not taking any immediate action to require the COVID-19 vaccination.
“My best guess, based on the estimates I’ve been hearing regarding vaccine distribution, is that it won’t widely become available until after the spring semester is complete,” Avila University spokesman Darren Roubinek said. “I’m sure we’ll evaluate the situation over the summer and take steps as we have more information about the Fall 2021 term.”
Park University said it will review local, state and federal recommendations before finalizing any policies, but a spokesman questioned if it can make the COVID-19 mandatory for students.
“Last week the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development noted on a call with institutions across the state that early evidence points to vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization may not be mandated,” spokesman Brad Biles said. “But the debate continues.”
FOX4 also asked college and university officials what – if any — other vaccinations are already mandatory for their students.
While they vary slightly, most require the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and meningitis vaccines, especially for students living in campus housing. Many also require screening for tuberculosis.
But Johnson County Community College and Metropolitan Community College have no vaccine requirements for students.
“Currently JCCC is not requiring any vaccinations of any kind, nor have (we) prior,” spokesman Chris Gray said.
MCC spokesman Blake Fry added: “We have taken no action on requiring students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. We do not require any other vaccinations.”
This spreadsheet linked here details the university and colleges’ responses to FOX4’s questions.