Grambling State University
Individual schools within the University of Louisiana system were reporting COVID-19 vaccination rates from 40 percent to 68 percent as of Thursday, though officials say nearly half of the University of Louisiana system’s student body and almost 80 percent of its faculty and staff have already gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
The UL system announced this week that COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for students, but students can easily get around any university vaccination requirement in Louisiana. They don’t have to be vaccinated if they provide a medical exemption from a physician or a written personal dissent, according to Louisiana state law.
The UL system includes Louisiana Tech, Grambling State, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of New Orleans.
Grambling (40 percent), Nicholls (50 percent), Southeastern (46.9 percent), UL Monroe (67.9 percent) and UNO (58 percent) provided the percentages of their student bodies who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. UL Lafayette, McNeese, Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech didn’t release that information.
Some of those vaccination rates haven’t been verified and are based on self-reported data. Others have been checked against state and federal databases.
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“Our institutions are tracking vaccination rates in myriad ways. Some are able to gather a snapshot of their university community in nearly real-time using the state’s LINKS system… while others are reliant on reports from LDH or campus surveys,” said Cami Geisman, spokeswoman for the UL system.
Faculty and staff of the UL system who decline the vaccine will have to undergo weekly testing, UL President Jim Henderson said during the board meeting.
Those tests will be funded by the Louisiana Department of Health and National Guard initially, but “eventually those resources are going to run out, and at that point, we’re going to have to make some decisions about how we fund that testing requirement,” Henderson said.
UL Board member Lola Dunahoe said she hopes funding won’t eventually come from school budgets, and said she believes that faculty and staff members who don’t get vaccinated should accept the responsibilities that come with it.
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“I think that is a fair observation and I look forward to discussing that one further,” Henderson replied.
Students who opt out of the vaccine also have to go through mandatory testing, but how often they’re tested will vary from school to school, Geisman said.
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