When originally crafting plans to reopen in the fall, the California State University System said it would, contingent upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration .
But so far, the FDA has granted all three vaccines available in the U.S. an Emergency Use Authorization, a designation enabling theto get them out quicker during the health crisis.
Late last month, amid the flood of new coronavirus cases spurred by the ultra-infectious delta variant, the Cal State system changed courseregardless of the FDA’s approval type. But it spoke volumes that California State — as the most extensive public four-year system in the U.S., based in a liberal mitigation attempts — was at first waiting for the FDA.
The system’s initial decision underscored the barriersa vaccine. Individuals unfamiliar with the thoroughness of the FDA’s emergency use evaluation can be suspicious that vaccines are untested or rushed. And colleges sometimes hesitate to take steps that are new or controversial.
According to The New, full approval entails the FDA reviewing hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, or about ten times the data necessary to give emergency authorization. That the vaccines being given out under emergency use authorization have been rushed. They , and in developing them.
College leaders. The Times reported that the FDA aims to give full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech version of the shot .
Policy and public health experts believe this willand cement their confidence they can legally require them. have affirmed such mandates at colleges in several states — .
Still, perception may be the biggest obstacle in many, and a shot with full FDA approval could change that.
“It’s more of a kind of policy objection than a legal barrier,” said Audrey Anderson, a lawyer at Bass, Berry & Sims in Nashville and a former general counsel of Vanderbilt University. “And that is, ‘How can you make me put this in my body when the Food and Drug Administration does not even approve it?’ This will take away one obstacle in making it mandatory.”
Vaccine mandates nationwide
About a quarter of two- and four-year nonprofit, and three-quarters are incentivizing their student bodies to get them, according to Chris Marsicano, founding director of the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, tracking institutional responses to the pandemic.
Some colleges mandating the vaccine await complete FDA signoff, includingin Virginia, , a two-year school in California.
Other institutions, like the Cal State system, initially intended to delay their requirements until full FDA approval but have since moved forward.in Tennessee and are among those colleges.
The total authorization would prompt a sea change at two levels, said Anita Barkin, co-chair of theof the American College Health Association.
Institutions at first reluctant to institute vaccine requirements would feel more comfortable doing so. Barkin said someback on a mandate after discussions with administrators and legal counsel, though the law is on their side.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to take up a lawsuit against Indiana University’s vaccine mandate, preserving it for the fall,have . , language in the emergency use authorization does not prohibit vaccine requirements.
Students and their families will also likely be more accepting of a fully approved vaccine, Barkin said. Barkin said that this, coupled with the knowledge that thecounts, hospitalizations, and deaths, will persuade some of those initially resistant.
As of early August, at least one dose of the vaccine.
“fill up, the increasing number of unvaccinated individuals who end up in intensive care compared to the vaccinated will help move individuals,” she said.
Barriers will remain
While some college-goers may be convinced to get the shots after full authorization, Anderson said that the shift almost certainly won’t change the minds of Republican policymakers who have bannedthrough new laws or executive action. and Oklahoma have enacted rules preventing colleges from implementing vaccine conditions.
“They see it as a question of individual rights and bodily integrity,” Anderson said. “A change by the FDA doesn’t matter for them.”
Barkin agreed that colleges in these GOP-led states would be the most hamstrung. More institutions will announce theirand others will want to but won’t be able to, she said.
ACHA recently released statements calling for, state policy allows and for ingrestricting mitigation strategies.
Once the, distribution on campuses won’t be complex, even if it’s happening as the fall term is already underway, Marsicano said.
He said colleges could hostthey move into on-campus housing.
Barkin said that institutions should focus on the positives of. They should not dwell on myths or disinformation in their messages. If they’re in a state that bars , colleges can use the FDA approval as a jumping-off point to encourage the shot.
“Schools that are requiring the vaccination or intend to put a requirement in, at this point in their communications, should be educating about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” Barkin said.