When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, the move raised questions within the University of Miami community on the importance and availability of additional vaccinations and how big of a role the university should play in encouraging their use.
"Sustainable U: Rounding Up @ The Campus Bookstore" is a new philanthropic initiative being introduced at the campus bookstore on November 15th.
After spending the last academic year at home because of travel restrictions stemming from the pandemic, University of Miami's Chinese students returned to campus this fall only to find out that some vaccinations they received in their own country did not match UM standards.
“I don’t understand how having access to a building will restrict the spread of COVID-19,” said Elena Ruiz, a senior chemistry major.
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“Vaccine mandates have been the law of the land since 1905 in Jacobson v. Massachusetts and these have been held up again and again,” said Dr. Timothy Loftus, the Health Disparities Project Fredman Family Foundation practitioner-in-residence and lecturer in law at the UM School of Law.
Sandra Perez-Alvarez, a secretary for three years in the theatre arts department, said that the opening weeks of classes left her concerned about the number of students not wearing masks as required. “The students are still not respecting the mask mandates, which is overall disappointing,” said Perez-Alvarez, a UM employee for nearly 11 years. The university recently updated its masking policies to require mask-wearing in outdoor settings while in groups of four or more.
Despite rising COVID-19 infection rates in South Florida, the University of Miami will open its doors for in-person classes on Aug. 23 after announcing updated safety protocols to prevent the spread of the Delta variant.
More than 200 universities are requiring its students – and in some instances, faculty and staff – to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester. Although the University of Miami has not yet announced if it will follow suit, UM President Julio Frenk said by the end of May that UM will provide more guidance about “a safe return in the fall.”
The university has employed 30 COVID symptom checkers around campus to slow the spread. However, many students have quite literally found a way around it.
“Three million people have died across the globe...That's three million people who were here this time last year, and now they're not. We wanted to sort of commemorate and recognize the fact that this has hit everybody.”