NEW YORK - New York University and St. John's University are among several New York City-area colleges and universities that will require students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus in the fall.
The universities announced their decisions this week in press releases and messages to their communities. Both NYU and St. John's will allow students to opt-out for either religious or documented medical reasons.
"Requiring vaccinations is consistent with our intent to minimize the spread of COVID-19 within our own community and more generally in New York City and to enable more in-person on-campus activities," NYU stated in its public memo. "Additionally, we believe it is better to let people know earlier in order to maximize the time they have to arrange to be vaccinated before the fall."
NYU will require students to be vaccinated before returning to campus in New York City and other U.S. sites but, at this time, not at its major overseas campuses.
"NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai will continue working in conjunction with the respective local authorities, as well as NYU, to determine their requirements," the university said.
In a university-wide message, Rev. Brian Shanley, the president of St. John's, encouraged students to get vaccinated before arriving at its New York-area campuses and noted that all U.S. residents 16 and older are eligible for the shot.
"The ongoing risk of serious health consequences for anyone who contracts COVID-19, along with the greater public health threat, are but two strong reasons in favor of getting vaccinated," Shanley said. "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."
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Earlier this month, NYU started offering vaccinations to students through its student health center. The university said 1,168 students, selected at random, were vaccinated in the first week of the program.
"We will continue to offer students vaccinations as we receive vaccine stock," NYU said. "We strongly encourage students — and all members of the NYU community — to also seek vaccinations elsewhere if that will result in their getting vaccinated earlier."
St. John's announced that it will receive a shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on April 27 and will offer those doses to students first.
New York's coronavirus cases are falling but remain relatively high.