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Students can conscientiously object to COVID-19 vaccine if mandated by Miami

Miami University is “carefully considering” mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all students, faculty and staff, according to a university-wide email sent this morning.

If mandated, students would be allowed to conscientiously object to receiving the vaccine – an unprecedented loophole for members of the Miami community who are unwilling to get vaccinated.

Conscientious objection, which is based on personal beliefs, has not been listed as an exemption for any other required immunizations by the university. Students could only request a medical or religious exemption.

“I don't really know what matters of conscience means, [or] if that applies to anything political,” said junior strategic communication major Rori Lykins. “I don't really understand that wording, but I could see medical and religious reasons.”

When asked if she thought a conscientious objection clause could function as a loophole around the mandate, Lykins’s answer was simple.

“I think it definitely will.”

The university-wide email regarding a vaccine mandate comes more than 48 hours after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

While the decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine must come from President Greg Crawford and his executive council, multiple organizations across campus have expressed support for a mandate. 

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) sent an open letter to Crawford, Provost Jason Osborne and the Board of Trustees on Aug. 24, urging Miami to require the vaccine. 

That same day, graduate school administrators met with graduate student leaders about the possibility of the university mandating the vaccine. According to an email sent to graduate students from the Graduate Student Association after that meeting, most attendees were in support of a vaccine mandate.

Now that the FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine, Ohio House Bill 244, which banned Ohio public universities from mandating vaccines while still under emergency use authorization from the FDA, is nullified. 

Ohio State University became the first public university in the state to announce a vaccine mandate for all students, faculty and staff yesterday afternoon.

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According to the email from the COVID Response Team, more than 75% of on-campus students have submitted proof of vaccination. The email does not include any information on how many off-campus students have been vaccinated.

Additional reporting done by Asst. Campus & Community Editor Sean Scott.