The University announced though a community-wide message on April 26 that COVID-19 vaccines will be required for all students returning to campus in the fall, as previously reported by the Loyolan.

“The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can end the pandemic and regain our communal college experiences,” said President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., in the message. “Thank you for your continuing efforts to #ProtectthePride and return to our beautiful campuses for the LMU experience we all long for and deserve.”

The University will allow exceptions on a case-by-case basis “for students with qualifying medical or religious reasons.” Those not receiving the vaccine may be subject to extensive COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols.

“I am very happy and proud of our administration for making this hard decision as there will obviously be people upset with this decision, but I think it is great for the safety and wellbeing of students,” said junior sociology and political science double major Nicole Baxley.

Baxley said that the vaccine requirement made her “more excited and feel safer returning to campus” in the fall. Although she was skeptical of the vaccine, Baxley felt that it was her duty as an American to receive the vaccine to protect others, and is now fully vaccinated.

Freshman business administration major Jorge Santana felt similarly, citing initial skepticism of the vaccine before doing independent research. Santana is fully vaccinated.

Santana felt great about the University’s vaccine requirement. “It ensures safety on campus and will be the last step to take to get back to normal. I’ve heard people say it infringes rights, and I can definitely see that, but it’s a small sacrifice we have to make towards the common good.”

There has been some backlash against the University’s decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine. A petition titled “No Vaccine Mandate at LMU” has been signed by 106 people as of 7:30 p.m. on May 4. This petition claims that the University requiring the COVID-19 vaccine under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) infringes upon personal rights.

“These requirements deny students who choose not to vaccinate the right to equal education and opportunities at LMU,” reads the petition. “Additionally, the restrictions are a foul form of discrimination [and] without equal opportunity to educational opportunities based on personal health choices. It is a form of segregation for the students who will be excluded, separated, and limited to the full offerings of the school.”

The author of this petition is unknown and listed as “CA Health Freedom,” though its ties to the official California Health Freedom Coalition are unknown. The petition closes with a demand directed toward Snyder to rewrite the University’s vaccination policies.

“I think this is a very reasonable measure to reduce transmission on campus,” said sociology professor and Director of Health and Society minor program Rachel Washburn. “I know many faculty members who feel very strongly that they don't feel comfortable coming back to campus unless everyone is vaccinated. However, I also understand that for those who are concerned about getting the vaccine, this is not necessarily welcomed news.”

Washburn has been fully vaccinated and described feeling safer returning to campus with the new vaccine mandate.

LMU has been vaccinating community members since early March, and began with on-campus and high-risk faculty of the University, but by late March opened appointments to all faculty and staff. On April 15, the University made vaccine appointments available to all LMU students.

Nearly 3,000 vaccines have been given on campus for LMU staff, faculty, students and the L.A. Catholic Archdiocese staff, according to Student Health Services Director Katharine Arce.

LMU’s Vaccination Center stopped giving doses to the community on April 30, but Arce informed the Loyolan that Student Health Services is developing plans for a vaccination clinic in the fall.

“I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” said Arce. “First, it is the most powerful tool we have to protect ourselves and others from acquiring the virus and associated variants. Second, it is safe and effective—millions of persons in the U.S. have received the vaccine without significant adverse effects. In summary, the positives of getting the vaccine far out weigh the negatives of not getting vaccinated.”

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44.5% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of May 4. For adults 18 and over, 56.4% have received at least one dose. President Joe Biden announced on May 4 a new goal to give at least 70% of adults at least one COVID-19 shot by July 4.

“To the students who are on the fence [about] getting vaccinated, I would tell them that I was too,” said Baxley. “After multiple hours of me doing research and examining case studies [of] other mRNA vaccines, [I decided] that it is important to get vaccinated and the pros heavily outweigh the cons … The fact that LMU is requiring it is for the safety of students, and as LMU is a private institution, they are well within their right to do so.”

The University will share more information about its vaccination policy and implementation in May.

To find a COVID-19 vaccination appointment near you, visit the CDC’s Vaccine Finder.

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