By Laura Blanco
After the FDA approved the Pfizer- BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 23, several government agencies and corporations, such as Delta Airlines, McDonald’s, and Uber have taken steps to mandate the vaccine to create the safest environment possible for their workers.
President Joe Biden enacted a six-step national plan to “ensure that we are using every available tool to combat COVID-19,” according to his COVID-19 Action Plan.
These six steps include: vaccinating the unvaccinated, further protecting the vaccinated, keeping schools open safely, increasing testing and requiring masks, protecting economic recovery, and improving care for those with COVID-19.
Based on Biden’s plan, employers with 100+ employees must require employees to either be vaccinated or tested weekly. Additionally, federal workers, government contractors, and healthcare workers that care for patients under Medicare and Medicaid must be vaccinated.
Lastly, large entertainment venues like sports arenas and concert halls must require vaccination or testing upon entry, and employees must be given paid time off to get vaccinated.
Furthermore, the CDC has issued guidance on booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine. People who can receive booster shots are those “aged 65 years and older, residents aged 18 years and older in long-term care settings, and people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions.”
Other people eligible for the booster shot include “people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions or people aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting.”
The recommendations only apply to people who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago.
Within the states, New York issued a mandate for all healthcare workers to be vaccinated by Sept. 27. As of Sept. 29, 87 percent of hospital workers are now fully vaccinated, according to covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov.
Gov. Kathy Hochul commends the workers who have gotten vaccinated and urges those who have not taken that step to do so.
While staffing shortages are a concern, Hochul has prepared a plan to respond. Part of this plan is to declare a state of emergency so that qualified health professionals can practice in New York State.
In Florida, legislators are opposing vaccination mandates.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Executive Order Number 21-81 states that “vaccines will not be mandated; and...no COVID-19 vaccine is required by law.”
Subsequently, Florida schools do not have mandates in place.
Internationally, the situation swings the other way.
According to Reuters, Italy is the only country in the European Union to make the “Green Pass” mandatory for all workers. The Green Pass is an identification document that shows proof of vaccination and/or recovery from COVID-19.
"Nothing like this has been done in Europe. We are putting ourselves in the forefront internationally,” said Public Administration Minister Renato Brunetta of Italy.
Fiji has followed suit, putting into effect a “no jab, no job” policy on Aug. 15.
As of Sept. 25, 364 U.S. universities and 473 colleges have mandated the COVID-19 vaccine following the FDA approval, such as Georgetown University, University of Louisiana, California State University, Duke University, and Princeton University.
Despite many mandates across the world, at Barry, the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandated but strongly encouraged. In fact, 39.1 percent of Barry students believe the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandated, according to a survey conducted by The Buccaneer.
According to Jennifer Boyd-Pugh, vice president for university administration, vaccination is crucial to protecting student health and community safety.
“[Vaccination] is our best tool to end the pandemic and the most important step we can all take to have a successful academic year,” she said.
Junior majoring in communication and media studies, Anjali Anirude, agrees that vaccination will help keep everyone safe.
“I chose to get the vaccine to help keep my family as well as myself safe,” said Anirude. Still, 60.9 percent of Barry students believe that there should not be a mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Boyd-Pugh adds that the university has been working to educate students and faculty about the benefits of vaccination and vaccine availability. Some of these strategies have been hosting the “Vaccine Myth Busters” event with healthcare experts, partnering with Jackson Health System and the Florida Department of Health for vaccination events, and Student Health Services administering the vaccine to those interested.
Those who are vaccinated are encouraged to report it so that the university, according to Boyd-Pugh, can have a “clearer picture” of vaccination rates.
Faculty and staff can report their vaccination status through Workday, and Barry students can do so through the Student Health Portal.
Students who live on campus are eligible for a $1,000 housing credit due to the increased risk of living in the residence halls. Students must provide proof of vaccination for the credit to be applied to their account.
Student Health Services continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines. Students can stay up to date on the Back to Barry webpage for the latest information on Barry’s protocols and the dashboard for a weekly update on COVID-19 tracking.