The state Board of Health voted unanimously in an emergency meeting Friday to require the COVID-19 vaccine for students enrolling in Nevada’s public colleges and universities this spring, adding the state’s seven degree-granting schools to the more than 740 nationwide that have implemented similar requirements.
Amending an existing regulation that requires certain vaccines for enrollment, the new mandate will set a deadline of Nov. 1 for students enrolling in spring semester courses at any public university, state college or community college to show proof of full COVID vaccination or — barring existing religious or medical exemptions — risk being unable to enroll.
That deadline will not affect enrollment status for the fall semester, which begins in three days, and for which the enrollment process has been long underway.
Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the emergency regulation Friday evening, saying in a statement that he was “grateful” for the action from the Board of Health.
Still, the board’s decision will be temporary, limited by a 120-day timeline for emergency measures. Julia Peek, a deputy administrator in the Department of Public and Behavioral Health, said a “more rigorous” process would need to be undertaken in order to permanently expand the list of vaccines required for enrollment to include those for COVID-19.
The discussion as to whether to require a vaccine for students has become increasingly volatile through the summer, as the rapid rise in cases spurred by a mix of relatively low vaccination rates and the fast-spreading Delta variant has clashed against the messages of vaccine opponents.
As the meeting’s live chat began filling with anti-vaccine or anti-mandate commenters, some members of the board defended the medical and scientific processes that produced the COVID vaccines.
That includes board member Trudy Larson, a medical doctor, former dean of the UNR School of Community Health Sciences and a member of the governor’s medical advisory team, who challenged the notion that the vaccines were “still experimental.”
“This vaccine has undergone every single safety and effectiveness study that is required for licensure, it had over 60,000 people participate in the trials — which is more than any vaccine we’ve seen in recent time — and it passed all of them,” Larson said. “This is one of the safest vaccines that has ever been produced. It is highly effective, and it’s still highly effective.”
Read the full article: Board of Health votes to mandate COVID vaccine for Nevada college students
This portion of the article is shared as part of our collaboration with The Nevada Independent. This story was originally published on August 20, 2021, and written by Jacob Solis.