SUNY faculty members are not required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 per a SUNY policy that went into effect last September.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced that SUNY faculty and staff would be required to get vaccinated in December 2021, an announcement that “blindsided” campus union leaders. The faculty vaccine mandate couldn’t go into effect until United University Professions (UUP) and the state came to an agreement regarding its implementation.
UUP and the governor entered negotiations on a potential mandate in February 2022.
“UUP is negotiating a new contract with the state. This process began last year,” UUP spokesperson Mike Lisi said in an email to The Spectrum. “Before negotiations began, both sides mutually agreed — as part of negotiations ground rules — that neither would discuss issues being negotiated in public or with the media.”
Neither SUNY nor the governor’s office responded to requests for comment.
While students who plan to attend in-person classes and/or utilize in-person services at a SUNY facility are still required to provide evidence that they have completed their primary COVID-19 vaccination series, other vaccination requirements for students have changed.
UB students are no longer required to receive any booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, per UB’s health and safety guidelines. Students enrolled at UB for the spring 2022 semester were required to receive a booster shot before the start of that semester.
UB students with religious and medical exemptions no longer have to undergo mandatory weekly surveillance testing. That requirement was dropped at the start of the fall 2022 semester, John Della Contrada, a university spokesperson, said.
UB’s health and safety guidelines strongly encourage UB employees and students to stay up to date with their vaccinations, including getting COVID-19 booster shots when eligible.
About 98% of UB students are vaccinated, as were 92% of UB employees, according to data from the spring 2022 semester, according to Della Contrada.
“Neither UB or SUNY have the authority to mandate vaccinations for all employees because they are represented by collective bargaining agreements — only the state can negotiate mandatory vaccination requirements,” Della Contrada said.
Della Contrada says students should get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms and stay up to date on their COVID-19 booster shots even though they are no longer required by the university.
Dec. 24, 2022 saw the highest spike of positive COVID-19 cases in Erie County since June 2022. Cases reached a high of 18 positive cases per 100,000 people a day and now stay at around 11 positive cases per 100,000 people.
Erie County is at a medium community risk level, according to CovidActNow. Only 17.8% of the population has the new bivalent booster.
The booster shot is recommended at least two months after completion of a primary series vaccination. COVID-19 boosters are available at most local pharmacies.
To keep up with the latest updates on UB’s COVID-19 planning and response, visit the university’s website.
Victoria Hill is the senior news editor and can be reached at email@example.com