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VCU students react to COVID-19 vaccine requirement

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Posted at 10:17 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 23:40:57-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- On Monday, VCU joined the ranks of a number of universities that are requiring the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus.

VCU students Shanice Rose and Demi Colon-Rios say they are relieved to hear about the vaccination mandate for students.

"When I signed up for my classes a few months ago, I was like oh, almost all of these are in person but they didn't say anything about us being vaccinated and I wasn't really comfortable with that," Colon-Rios said.

VCU said that the only exception for the vaccination rule will be for students who learn virtually or for those with religious or health exemptions.

"Attorney General Mark Herring has said that colleges and universities can require the vaccine of students which is something we see for other types of vaccines, right? There's plenty of vaccines that students are required to get before they live in dorms or on campus," Cat Long with the Richmond/Henrico Health District said.

Students say that they understand who some might find the mandate a violation of personal rights.

"I feel that's a relatively plausible concern," Phong Trinh, a VCU student, said.

A recent campus survey showed that a majority of students, parents and staff supported requiring the vaccine.

"Personally, I don't think it does as much harm as good," Long said.

"The world has changed in different ways and COVID and the vaccine is now one of them," VCU student Elizabeth Camber said.

VCU said that students have until July 15 to receive the full vaccine dose and upload their vaccination record to university student health services.

The university said that even if a student has already had COVID-19, the vaccine mandate still applies as health experts are unsure how long antibodies provide protection from the virus.

Health officials say only the vaccine will help to guarantee a return to normal for students.

"They don't have to worry about wearing a mask in most settings, they won't have to worry about social distancing if they're vaccinated, so it really gives more freedom to live their college experience in the richest way possible," Long said.