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Bill calls for college students to get COVID-19 vaccine

Legislation introduced this week in the state Senate would require all students attending a college or university in New York state to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

S.6495 was introduced by Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-New York City, to amend the state Public Health Law to require students provide proof of immunization against COVID-19. Hoylman’s legislation adds COVID-19 to the list of immunizations colleges in New York already require for students: measles, mumps and rubella.

Hoylman pointed to COVID case spikes last year that happened independent of the first and second national COVID-19 waves, which Hoylman said is a sign of COVID-19’s potency on a college campus.

“Considering the ease with which COVID-19 spreads on college campuses and the risk to college communities, it is crucial that each student attending college protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19 by getting a COVID-19 vaccine before arriving on campus,” Hoylman wrote in his legislative justification.

More than 100 colleges and universities nationally are requiring students to be vaccinated in order to attend college in the fall, according to a recent CNN report. The State University at New York began vaccinating students before they left campus at the end of the spring semester after securing the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Giving residential students the one-shot option helps clear a crucial logistical hurdle in the race to get people fully vaccinated before they leave campus and return to their hometown communities,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. “We strongly encourage all students to schedule their appointments as soon as they can; to do their part in protecting themselves, their families, and their communities; and to help spread the word about the many benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines. Our students have been unsung heroes since the beginning of this health crisis, and with the pandemic’s finish line firmly in sight, we expect them to play a pivotal role in finally putting COVID-19 behind us. I want to thank our New York State partners who helped secure these vaccines, as well as the dedicated teams and volunteers on the county and campus level that are working swiftly to set up student-specific points of distribution.”

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