WESTERVILLE — Otterbein University has announced it will now require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Otterbein has followed the advice of public health officials to make decisions in the best interest of the health and safety of our community,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dawn Stewart. “This, combined with our current mask mandate, will offer the highest level of protection to our community and allow us to continue to offer in-person classes and activities.”
Factors in the decision include the rapid spread of the Delta variant and the safety and effectiveness of the available vaccines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday.
“Franklin County Public Health applauds Otterbein University for their decision to require COVID-19 vaccination for students, faculty, and staff,” said Joe Mazzola, Franklin County health commissioner. “The number of new COVID-19 cases in our community continues to increase at an alarming rate and is attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant. This week in Ohio and Franklin County we have seen the highest single-day numbers of new cases and hospitalizations since the vaccine became widely available earlier this year.”
Mazzola further added that vaccination is the safest and most effective form of protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. “Vaccinations, in addition to universal masking, are essential actions that will help protect the health and safety of our community,” he said.
The university has actively promoted COVID-19 vaccinations through educational outreach to the campus community. Thanks to those efforts, approximately 75% of students and 90% of faculty and staff at Otterbein are fully vaccinated. Otterbein also requires all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to wear masks indoors in common spaces, including classrooms, the library, hallways, stairwells, and residence halls, regardless of vaccination status.
The university will be holding vaccination clinics on campus to ensure vaccines are available and convenient to all members of the campus community.
Students, faculty, and staff may request a medical or religious exemption from the vaccination requirement. Exemption requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Submitted by Otterbein University in Westerville.