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Nova Southeastern University To Require COVID-19 Vaccine

Exterior of Nova Southeastern campus in Clearwater
Nova Southeastern University
In addition to the main campus in Davie, Nova Southeastern has eight regional locations, including the Tampa Bay Regional Campus in Clearwater.

The private university announced that vaccinations are mandatory by Aug. 1. School officials say it will be the first college in the country to mandate vaccines for both students and staff.

Nova Southeastern University on Friday detailed its decision to require students, faculty and administrators to be vaccinated for COVID-19 when they return to campus in the fall.

“We believe that this is the best and safest path forward,” Dr. Harry Moon, the private university’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said at a news conference at the main campus in Davie.

Moon, a surgeon, said the school will resume full, in-person classroom learning for the fall semester.

He called the decision a “bold step,” but one made after reviewing data on the disease and in line with guidelines recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Virtual classes will go on but they will not be the primary platform as they have been over the past year during the pandemic. Moon said the school would also look at exemptions “that may exist.”

“The intent is to get back in the classroom,” he said.

Nova Southeastern said it will be the first school in the country to require students and staff to be vaccinated. Others, including Rutgers University in New Jersey, have announced that students must receive the vaccines before arriving on campus for fall classes.

The university has campuses across the state, including the Kiran C. Patel College Of Osteopathic Medicine in Clearwater.

In addition to its main location in Davie and the Patel College, the school has campuses in Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach Gardens and Puerto Rico. The university has 6,314 undergraduate students and 14,574 advanced degree students.

Moon compared requiring the COVID-19 vaccines — approved only for emergency use — to inoculations required for entrance into grade schools.

However, he expects legal challenges.

“In society, legal challenges are common, so I would not find it unusual that we will be challenged on this,” he said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis this week has said he already intends to issue an executive order to ban vaccine mandates or “passports” to restrict admission to places such as theaters, stadiums, theme parks and air travel.

Moon said the university would continue to follow federal guidelines, including mask wearing and social distancing.

“We are following CDC guidance,” he said. “This is about personal health and safety.”

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.
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