Campus News

UB to require students to be vaccinated to attend fall in-person classes


Published May 11, 2021

“Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself from getting COVID-19; requiring it of our students will help assure a safe, in-person experience on campus in the fall. ”
Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

UB students will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to attend classes in person in the fall as part of an effort to boost vaccination rates on SUNY campuses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday. 

The mandate for all 64 campuses in the SUNY system is pending final approval of the vaccines by the Food and Drug Administration, and will also require the approval of the SUNY Board of Trustees. Currently, the vaccines are approved for emergency authorization use only. 

The governor’s decision is strongly supported by UB leaders in order for students to resume in-person instruction and activities when the fall semester begins. 

“Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself from getting COVID-19; requiring it of our students will help assure a safe, in-person experience on campus in the fall,” says Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences, dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and chair of UB’s health and safety committee.

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.

Since the beginning of April, when Cuomo announced that college-aged students were eligible to receive the vaccine, UB has been leading a campaign encouraging all students to get vaccinated. 

Currently, 4,200 UB students have indicated to the university they been fully vaccinated, and in a recent UB survey, 88% of students said they are vaccinated, in the process of getting vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated. UB expects the number of fully vaccinated students to grow considerably over the next few months, leading up to the fall semester when the university will return to a much more prominent in-person experience.

While it is not required that on-campus employees are vaccinated, UB strongly encourages faculty and staff to make vaccination appointments as soon as possible as well.


What if you are not comfortable with getting vaccinated? What happens then?

Grace Cashman

It is not fair or equal that the students are required to be vaccinated, while the staff have a say in whether they want to or not. As a senior at UB, I think this is unfair, considering that the school was already open and using masks. Masks work and I think this vaccine requirement is not necessary. 

Rylea Cammarano

International students might face a significantly greater challenge in getting vaccinated by fall 2021, as many other countries do not yet have the supply and/or distribution that the U.S. has achieved. Just something to consider, especially given the number of international students who attend UB.

Daniel Toma   

Why is it that students need the vaccines but not employees? I feel that is unfair. I also feel that getting this vaccine should be a choice and it should not affect how I am able to learn.

Alexia Ruiz

I feel as though my patient autonomy is being violated because the vaccine is being forced upon students. The university and the state of New York are giving students an educational ultimatum by threatening to deprive students of their legal right to a proper education if they choose not to get vaccinated. My major requires all in-person classes and I am somebody who does not agree with taking medicine for everything. This is disrespecting and violating my human rights as a United States citizen. I have never tested COVID-positive and I'm meeting all requirements set by the CDC. Students should have the right to chose whether or not they get vaccinated.

Jada Sanchez 

Why is this a requirement? I am absolutely against being forced to get this vaccine, as well as getting it in general. And is there a waiver or anything that I can fill out to still be able to attend classes in the fall without a vaccine?

Stanley A Szumigala

Now, I do understand that they are still finalizing stuff with the board of trustees. However, I have a question about the required vaccine. I know a couple of people, including myself, who have personal and religious reasons on why they would not like to take the vaccine. Will UB take this into consideration? Or will they require it for everyone, no matter what?

Logan Martin

You should provide alternative classes that are offered online for those students who disagree about the COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine cannot be forced on anyone by UB. It is dehumanizing!

Eve Lekawa

What if I don't want to get vaccinated? I am an adult; I make decisions about my own body. I don't want a group of unknown people deciding what I have to do. And my reasons for not wanting to get vaccinated should not matter because my personal freedom and will come before mandates like this. Please review this decision. It violates my right to freedom.

Nicholas Bohan

I would just like voice a protest to requiring the vaccine. I have no issue with encouraging it, but enforcing a requirement that I put something in my body that I have concerns about seems a bit much. I'm not sure if there are provisions for those who have been advised by doctors not to take it, so maybe consider adding that?

Brandon Petricca

What is your reasoning behind requiring students but not staff to get vaccinated?

Maxwell Keller

How can you force vaccinations when every week we get emails showing the COVID count and it’s always less than 10 people?

Alejandro Adorno 

It’s unfair that only students need to be vaccinated. Employees should be, too.

Devyn Mogavero

There is no reason why students should be incentivized to get the vaccine at this moment. Until the FDA comes out with an approval, I will not get this vaccine because the state cannot force a mandate on individual students at this moment. I have no idea why Cuomo made this mandate at this time; it is very disappointing the leadership in this state. Without an approval there can be no mandates, as getting the vaccine should be a personal decision for an individual, not a collectively public decision. The state thinks people are not smart and cannot decide for themselves how they want to live their lives in the midst of this pandemic. I can assure everyone that depending on a person's circumstance and experience with COVID, only the individual person knows if they appropriately need to get the vaccine or not. I feel like our nation is falling far from democracy as the decades go by and people are being blindsided by false news and false hope that could possibly affect their health in the long term. We need more effective leaders in this state, in this country, and beyond to listen to the average American in the U.S.

Alexander Woods

I never knew vaccines were mandated. I think it should be a personal choice because many people have different reasonings for why they do not want it. I think those who are not vaccinated should still be able to wear a mask and attend school. There should be more online options available for those who are not vaccinated; I haven't seen many available for the fall semester.

Shantel Shannon

If all students are required to get vaccinated, how do we prove that we are vaccinated? I hope UB implements a system that allows students to prove they are vaccinated, and if not vaccinated then students should not be allowed back on campus.

Kayla Rue 

If I am required to get the vaccine for in-person classes, then all six of my classes should be in person. I'm not just getting the vaccine for two lab classes. Especially if we don’t want to. That is putting us in a spot where we have no real say. That’s not fair.

Dylan Mercado

If 88% of current UB students have been fully vaccinated, are in the process of getting vaccinated, or plan on getting vaccinated, and as the document states "UB expects the number of fully vaccinated students to grow considerably...", it seems compulsory and quite unnecessary to require the vaccine of those who are not comfortable getting it. Moving forward with such a decision would deprive those students who decide to exercise their freedom of choice a proper education. Mandating the vaccine shows a lack of consideration for personal beliefs and a clear disrespect for the individual's autonomy and personal capacity for decision-making. The decision should be reconsidered and possible alternatives should be examined to ensure the liberty of choice for students.

Miguel Mendoza

I have no plans to get the vaccine. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have all been subject to some of the largest criminal settlements in American history (i.e., Pfizer’s anti-inflammatory drug Bextra, Johnson & Johnson’s 2019 lawsuit for knowingly producing talcum powder with trace amounts of asbestos, etc.). The state has no right to mandate a decision that is so clearly a gray area for many reasons, and UB has no right to enforce it.

Lucas Wicks


Philip Glick

How are you going to require students to have a vaccine or they will be denied a proper education, yet a population more at risk (faculty and staff) are not required to get the vaccine? Why is our bodily autonomy being stripped from us, yet professors get a choice? This is disgusting. 

Journi Northorp

I will be a sophomore during the fall 2021 semester. It is not in my interest to take the vaccination, as I am unsure of the ingredients and side effects of it. On a bigger scale, as pertaining to the student body, the vaccine is against morality, or religion. It is not helpful that the mandate isn't required for faculty.

Nolan Blaize 

This is an excellent decision. The new COVID-19 variants are seen spreading among the young people more than the older adults and senior citizens. There can’t be a better way to ensure vaccination among the young population, especially students, than making it mandatory. I am fully vaccinated and I will go out of my way to encourage everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest.

My only suggestion would be to explicitly list the vaccines that one can take, as there are several vaccines approved in different countries. Also, the documents required to prove that one has been vaccinated, and the name and date of the vaccine administered.

I am a new admission from India in the full-time MBA program for fall 2021.

Shashwat Raj Singh 

Although all of my classes are online for the fall, I have to say this: making students get vaccinated when currently all vaccines have not been FDA-approved is extremely unlawful and pushy. I do not agree with this whatsoever and I will be fighting it. I am all for safety, but I will not take something that has not been FDA-approved because then we do not know its safety. 

Paige Randall

There have been comments on other news articles stating things like, "It's not fair that professors get to choose and we can't" or "I am not getting the vaccine for a certain reason." I can see why people would feel this way, but it also leans the other way.

I have been fully vaccinated as of May 21, and I did this so I wouldn't need to follow the guidelines. I don't think masks and social distancing will work any more, especially for college kids that need true, in-person interactions.

Also, the research for this vaccine has technically been around for over 50 years, since the first of seven coronaviruses that can infect humans jumped to humans in 1965. This should make anyone worried about the vaccine a little less worried.

Xavier Stanton 

I believe requiring this vaccine goes against my rights as a human. I don’t think it’s Andrew Cuomo’s nor SUNY’s decision if I inject something into my own body. The vaccine is only in its infancy with humans. As we all know from past vaccines, we don’t know the true effects until years have gone by and become aware of all of the permanent negative effects.

Katie Mahar 

Forcing students to get a vaccine that not only has shown detrimental side effects in both the young and the old, but is also no more effective against the virus than continuing with the precautions we’ve all been following and to put this agenda between someone’s chance at obtaining a degree is completely against our rights and illegal. Many legal issues will ensue at this school.

Lucia Art

Mandating a vaccination in order to attend classes is an indication that the leadership of SUNY, and indeed New York State, are either driven by fear in their approach to leadership or they are just trying to twist the hands of students who they view as being vulnerable in this matter!

So my professor has the right to decide if he/she can get vaccinated and I don't have the right to make the same decisions? How is that fair? Is my professor more or less human than I am that he can make choices and I cannot make the same choices?

I think SUNY should revisit this mandate and allow students the right to decide if they want to receive an experimental vaccine or not!

Many of us have been responsible enough not to needlessly expose ourselves to the virus since COVID started in 2020, and we can be trusted to continue to make such rational and responsible decisions. It is only fair and right that we be allowed to have a say in our future, health and education.

Akinsola Oyelakin