WINDSOR TERRACE — Before heading back to campus for the beginning of the fall semester, students at local Catholic colleges and universities may need a needle.
St. John’s University (SJU) has joined a growing list of schools requiring that its student body provide proof of vaccination before arriving on campus in the fall. Exemptions from the requirement, officials noted, will be made for students who provide proof of a documented medical condition or cite religious beliefs that would preclude them from being inoculated with the vaccine.
“The well-being and safety of you — our students, faculty, administrators, and staff — is always the highest priority of St. John’s and is my foremost daily prayer for you all,” said Father Brian J. Shanley, O.P., president of St. John’s University, in a university-wide message.
On April 27, SJU received 1,170 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine intended for current students at its Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan campuses.
“It was like a Christmas gift on December 26 when we got approval from the state to become a vaccine site,” said Dr. John M. Conry, Pharm.D., chairperson of the Department of Clinical Health Professions in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at SJU. “It then became a matter of preparation, planning operations, and waiting for the vaccine to be delivered.”
Lisa Capriola, a sixth-year student in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and one of the on-site vaccinators licensed to administer the vaccine, said it was a privilege to return to campus after more than a year away to help out.
“I’ve administered [vaccines] on clinical rotations for the elderly, but I’ve never done it for younger people,” Capriola said, noting that she had administered 22 shots to her SJU peers within three hours. “It’s very rewarding.”
After receiving his first shot, senior Eric De Lucca said he felt inspired seeing the student pharmacists in action.
“I’m proud of these students who are going into a field where they’re able to help people in such a great way — even though I don’t even know them and they don’t know me,” De Lucca said. “They earned that white coat and pharmacy patch on their coats.”
Junior Daniela Yushuvayev said the convenience of being able to get a shot on campus was worth the wait.
“I tried to get an appointment on the city’s site weeks ago and I couldn’t find one,” Yushuvayev said as she waited to be checked in. “This was definitely an easier process and I’m excited to be able to keep my friends and family safe.”
Fordham University announced it is requiring undergraduates and students in its graduate and professional schools to be vaccinated prior to returning to campus. The school will also offer on-campus vaccinations upon arrival to international students who could not be vaccinated in their home countries. Medical and religious accommodations will be considered.
“Our goal is simple and twofold: to provide a COVID-safe environment in which our students, faculty, and staff can pursue our mission; and to help protect the health and safety of our off-campus neighbors,” said Father Joseph McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, in an April 16 letter to the university’s community.
“These are not merely Fordham priorities, but a duty as citizens and members of the University community,” he continued. “Pope Francis has said that there is a moral imperative to be vaccinated for the good of the human family at a time of remarkable challenge. We agree.”
Some 1,200 doses of the vaccine were available to the Fordham community at its two campuses in Manhattan and the Bronx during the weeks of April 19 and 26, according to John Carroll, associate vice president of public safety.
The College of Mount Saint Vincent hosted a pop-up vaccination clinic on campus on April 22, distributing nearly 100 of the allocated 114 first doses to community members. Mount Saint Vincent officials said the college has not yet announced a vaccination requirement, stating, “We’re following guidelines as they’re issued and will comply with state guidance on requirements for the vaccine, as we do with all other state and local guidelines.”
Manhattan College also hosted a pop-up clinic on April 22, distributing about 250 first doses to students, employees, and neighbors on campus. School officials reported that 224 students and 315 employees had already submitted verification that they were fully vaccinated as of April 27.
Manhattan College has also not yet determined if it will require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated for the fall — “though we are strongly encouraging everyone to do so,” school officials told The Tablet.
“We will make adjustments based on city, state, or federal regulations or recommendations,” they added.
As of April 27, St. Joseph’s College had not mandated any vaccination requirements for the fall semester and has made no announcements about this to date.
“We do, however, continue to encourage our campus communities to get vaccinated in order to help reduce the risk of exposure to themselves and others from the virus,” St. Joseph’s College officials said.