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SUNY can’t mandate COVID vaccine until it's fully approved by FDA

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras at Onondaga Community College with President Casey Crabill, right.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras wants the state’s colleges and universities to return back to normal, as much as possible, for the fall semester. Malatras said the key is getting students vaccinated against COVID.

He said in a recent survey, nearly 75% of SUNY students that responded have had at least one shot, which is a good thing.

“If you’re vaccinated, you can come back to campus without your masks, you don’t have to socially distance, you can be in a classroom, you’re going to be able to live in the residential facilities, you’re going to be able to play sports; do all those activities that students demand and want after a year-plus of being isolated from one another,” Malatras said.

Students who don’t get vaccinated will have to wear a mask, socially distance, can’t play sports or live in many of the residential facilities.

“Because there’s still COVID out there, there’s still the Delta variant,” Malatras said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in May that all SUNY students must get vaccinated against COVID. But that can only go into effect after the federal Food and Drug Administration fully approves the vaccines. Right now, they’re authorized for emergency use only. It’s unclear when there will be full approval, but it could happen after students return to campus. Malatras said a policy is ready to go, once the vaccines are approved. Until then, SUNY is pushing vaccine awareness campaigns and encouraging students and faculty to use vaccine clinics on campus.