University President Thomas LeBlanc said officials are in “active conversations” to decide if they will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students this fall.
LeBlanc said in an interview Friday that officials have not made a final decision about requiring vaccinations this fall, but that he has met with GW’s public health leadership about the matter. A few colleges across the country, including Northeastern, Cornell and Rutgers universities, have already announced they will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students returning to campus this fall.
“We will make an announcement in a timely manner,” LeBlanc said. “But we’re still gathering data on it, and obviously, we’re working with our public health officials who are the experts.”
While officials are monitoring supply levels for the vaccine, LeBlanc said many students have been unable to receive a vaccine so far, and officials can’t require vaccines until everyone has access to them.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” LeBlanc said. “I mean, that’s part of the challenge. You can’t require a vaccination unless people can get it. Until you really have universal access, it’s hard to require something that they couldn’t get.”
LeBlanc said the University will develop the infrastructure to vaccinate students if Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or D.C. officials provide GW with the vaccine.
“We would build the capability to give the vaccination, order the vaccines – all of that good stuff – assuming we have the right to do it,” he said. “It’s just right now we don’t and we have no indication from either the federal government, the CDC or the District as to when that might happen.”
LeBlanc added that he has seen other universities’ decisions about the vaccine and has received questions about the matter from members of the GW community.
“I get emails asking about this,” LeBlanc said. “I got one this morning. We had a conversation about it this morning.”