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University System of Maryland to mandate Covid-19 vaccination for students, faculty and staff

University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman issued a mandate Friday morning that would require students, faculty and staff of any USM institution to receive the Covid-19 vaccine before returning to campus in the fall.

Perman, who was a pediatrician prior to being appointed USM Chancellor last year, noted that for him it was a “risk/benefit analysis.”

“If we examine the data—and there is an extraordinary accumulation of data—we see that the risk of vaccines is very low, whereas the risk of COVID is very high. And that risk is increasingly falling on young people,” Perman said.

The move doesn’t come without some notice. In remarks to the USM Board earlier this month, Perman said “I do believe that mandating a Covid vaccine is a reasonable and necessary means of preventing spread of the disease and protecting community safety. I believe the unique nature of our campuses requires it.”

Data suggests that because of the recent prevalence of the “UK variant” of the virus, young people are becoming infected at a much more alarming rate. Perman believes the vaccine mandate will counteract that.

Perman also notes that there will be exceptions to the mandate, whether they be medical or religious.

“This mandate was not undertaken lightly. It was based on the recommendation of a USM workgroup I convened this semester—one that includes university-based experts in public health, infectious disease, and emergency management,” Perman said. “It was based on advice from the USM presidents—all 12 System presidents—and their cabinets.”

In addition to the vaccine mandate, other protocols will remain in place, such as Covid-19 testing, symptom monitoring, masking and physical distancing.

As of April 19, all adults in the United States are eligible to receive the vaccine.

More information about getting a Covid-19 vaccine in Maryland can be found here. You can also pre-register for vaccination at a mass vaccination site.

Tony Sheaffer is editor-in-chief for The Sting.

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