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University of Minnesota to require COVID-19 vaccine for students once FDA fully approves

The decision comes on the heels of a newly-reinstated systemwide mask mandate.

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota will require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 pending full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the system's president announced Monday. 

In a letter sent systemwide, university President Joan Gabel said requiring the COVID-19 vaccine is the school's "best chance" at normal campus life and in-person learning. 

According to the university, faculty and staff must either be vaccinated or be tested regularly for COVID-19.

The decision comes on the heels of a newly-reinstated systemwide mask mandate. Gabel cited delta variant concerns, as well as rising COVID-19 cases in Minnesota and around the U.S. 

"Your health and wellness remain our top priority, as is ensuring that we are together this fall," Gabel wrote. "As a result, and pending shared governance consultations and Board of Regents approval, we are elevating our Get the Vax plan to Get the Vax 2.0." 

The vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson each have emergency authorization from the FDA. On Sunday, U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said he's hopeful that the vaccine will get full approval by the end of August. 

RELATED: Fauci hopeful COVID vaccines get full OK by FDA within weeks

Gabel said details on timing, exemptions and consequences are still in development. 

RELATED: University of Minnesota professors call for vaccine mandate on campus

As for faculty and staff, Gabel said shared governance consultations are still in progress. However, she said school officials "anticipate" that faculty and staff will need to confirm through online attestation that: 

  • You are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and that you will get tested if you are exposed to someone who has COVID or if you experience symptoms; or
  • If you have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccination, that you are testing via a means and frequency to be determined, testing if you experience symptoms, and testing if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19; and
  • If you receive a positive test result for COVID-19, you will follow CDC guidance, including isolating and participating in contact tracing efforts, and in return to work.

Gabel and school officials plan to hold a virtual town hall about the plan on Aug. 18. Students, faculty and staff can submit questions for the town hall here.

Various other colleges and businesses in Minnesota and around the country have already required vaccines for students or employees. 

RELATED: Here are the latest vaccination and masking announcements as the delta variant spreads

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