ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Students at the University of New Mexico might have to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they want to return to campus this fall. The university just released a proposal for the return to in-person learning.
Some students say they are in support of a mandatory vaccine policy because they want to have a normal college experience. But they know not everyone will be on board. “I’m a junior so next year, will be my last year so it’s kind of my last chance to have the normal college year,” says Gabriela O’Keefe.
O’Keefe says a mandatory vaccine policy could ensure her last year at UNM will make up for 2020. “It’s just a step in the right direction, we all want to be back on campus, we want to have in-person classes be back at 100 percent capacity, have events in person,” O’Keefe says.
Right now, the university is considering a mandatory vaccine policy for students and staff before they can return to campus for the fall semester. “If the FDA lifts the emergency use authorization, we would hope to have a vaccine policy,” says Cinnamon Blair, UNM spokesperson.
More than 100 U.S. colleges and universities will require students to get vaccinated before they return to campus. According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, only 31% of the state’s 18 to 24-year-olds have had at least one shot, easily the lowest rate among adults in New Mexico.
“A lot of my friends they kind of have that view where it’s like we’re healthy if we got it we would survive kind of ideology,” says freshman Heather Ferrell.
UNM believes about 41% of its students and staff are at least partially vaccinated so far and returning students hope that number will grow as the fall semester gets closer. “If we have people that aren’t vaccinated that limits our ability to return to a normal college experience and a normal learning experience,” O’Keefe says.
UNM is still gathering community input about the vaccine requirement. If the policy does go into effect they could make exemptions. New Mexico State University said they haven’t made a decision about whether they will require the vaccine