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Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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SUNY campuses to require in-person students to be vaccinated this fall

Mandate will only go into effect if vaccines receive full FDA approval

Josh Atkinson, a senior geology major, receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at UB's North Campus vaccination site.
Josh Atkinson, a senior geology major, receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at UB's North Campus vaccination site.

All SUNY and CUNY in-person students will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 starting in the fall semester, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a tweet Monday. 

“Let’s make a global statement,” Cuomo said during a press conference Monday. “You cannot go back to school in September unless you have the vaccine. That will be a major motivation for people to get the vaccine, and if you have to get it by September, you may as well get it now. Why wouldn’t you get it now?”

The requirement will only go into effect if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to COVID-19 vaccines; the three vaccines on the market have only been granted emergency use authorization as of Monday. Pfizer-BioNTech became the first vaccine manufacturer to apply for full FDA approval on Friday. The process is expected to take a few months, according to The Guardian.

“The University at Buffalo strongly supports Governor Cuomo’s recommendation to require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19, pending final FDA approval of vaccines and approval of the requirement by the SUNY Board of Trustees, in order for students to participate in in-person classes and activities in the fall semester,” UB wrote in a statement.

“Over the next several days and weeks, UB will continue to urge all current and in-coming students to schedule their shots as soon as possible at clinics in Western New York and in their home communities throughout the U.S. where vaccine appointments are readily available. UB international students currently living abroad are also encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible in their home countries.”

Currently, SUNY and CUNY schools are only required to mandate the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.  

Cuomo’s announcement comes after SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced last month that getting the vaccine would be “voluntary” for SUNY students. However, Malatras also said that state officials would reassess the policy in the coming months. 

Cuomo was previously reluctant to mandate the vaccine, saying it would likely lead to lawsuits. 

Cuomo is also encouraging private colleges and universities to require vaccination for in-person students. Syracuse University, Cornell University, the University of Rochester and New York University, among others, had previously said they would mandate the vaccine for the upcoming academic year. 

NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from UB.

Grant Ashley is an assistant features editor and can be reached at

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Grant Ashley is an assistant features editor for The Spectrum.  He is a political science major and a (mediocre) Spanish minor.  He enjoys taking long bike rides and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. 



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