This story was republished with permission from the Legislative Gazette
State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced that SUNY students are nearing full compliance with the state’s vaccine mandate, reaching a 99.5% vaccination rate across the system’s 64 campuses.
The high vaccination rate has allowed for SUNY students to return to a more “normal” on-campus college experience this fall, according to the chancellor.
As it stands now, only 1,592 students have yet to be vaccinated, most of whom are commuter students at community colleges. Campuses are working one-on-one with these students to get them vaccinated and bring the compliance to 100%.
To reach compliance, students need to have received at least one vaccination dose. In order to not be withdrawn from in-person classes, students need to have proof of an FDA-approved vaccination.
When students were first notified about this deadline, about 10,000 of them were at risk of being withdrawn. But once the deadline was announced, many of them started to receive their first dose, meaning they wouldn’t be removed from classes.
SUNY student vaccination rates are much higher than the national college-aged student rate of 64.8%, for students ages 18-24. SUNY is the largest system of public higher education with preliminary fall enrollment of about 375,000 students, and its student vaccination rate leads many of the larger colleges and universities across the country.
SUNY’s vaccination rate is about 7% higher than Michigan State University and 14% higher than Penn State, for example.
“Our students have been the unsung heroes since the beginning of this health crisis and have played a pivotal role in working to finally put the COVID-19 pandemic behind them,” said SUNY Student Advocate Fellow Kalief Metellus, a student at Old Westbury. “Overcoming enormous challenges in dealing with the impacts of this pandemic is no stranger to these students, and even after over a year of hardship, they still persisted and rose to the occasion.”
SUNY also implemented a vaccine mandate for management confidential employees at SUNY system administration. The 550 employees are at 100% compliance.
Currently, more than 75% of faculty and staff across the system are vaccinated, but SUNY cannot currently mandate those employees be vaccinated. Instead, SUNY has a vaccination or mandatory weekly testing policy for staff that are part of collective bargaining units.