Cuomo: Vaccinations required to attend state/city universities in person

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool

The current plan in New York State (at least until it changes again tomorrow) is for the majority of colleges and universities to be reopening in the fall for in-person education. This includes the more than five dozen State University of New York (SUNY) campuses and all of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. That news appears to have given Andrew Cuomo a bright idea. He remains unhappy with the vaccination participation rate in the state, particularly among the younger, healthier people who largely don’t seem to be in any rush to sign up for a shot. This week the Governor came out with yet another pronouncement clearly intended to address that situation. You can go back to college in the fall, but only if you are vaccinated. The unvaccinated will have the option of attending remotely. (Spectrum News)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced new measures aimed at raising the vaccination rate among New York’s “youthful and doubtful” population. That includes vaccinations for SUNY and CUNY students if the shots receive federal approval.

During his daily briefing, Cuomo said the SUNY and CUNY schools will require vaccinations for students coming back in the fall. The governor later clarified that vaccinations would only be mandated for students attending in-person classes if the shots receive FDA approval before the beginning of the fall semester.

Gov. Cuomo also urged private schools to require vaccinations. Some already have made such announcements, including Cornell, University of Rochester, RIT and Syracuse University.

While making the announcement, Cuomo as much as admitted what was going on here. Because let’s be honest… this is blackmail. The Governor came right out and said that it was time for “no excuses” and that if you want to go to school in the fall, you must be vaccinated. And if you have to have it by September, “may as well get it now. Why wouldn’t you get it now?” I’ve cued up this video from the presser to the spot where he lists his demands. See for yourself.

I’ve already heard the arguments from people on social media saying “public schools already require vaccinations for childhood diseases.” That’s true, though those requirements are rather dubious themselves, but it’s largely become accepted in society. But that’s also a very different situation. First of all, those vaccines are intended to prevent a resurgence of deadly diseases that we have largely wiped out. These include measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. Those diseases wiped out huge numbers of children. Conversely, children go almost entirely untouched by COVID.

Further, childhood vaccinations represent a decision being made by parents on behalf of their children who are too young to fully understand the need or give informed consent. And there are exemptions offered for those with religious objections or complicating medical factors. College students – aside from a handful of freshmen – are adults who are heading out into the world and making decisions for themselves. And the 18-24 age group is similarly one of the least impacted by COVID, with very few deaths or prolonged hospitalizations as compared to senior citizens.

I’m not here to say that Cuomo can’t legally do this. And thus far the university system is backing him up so that ship has probably already sailed. But lets at least be clear about how and why he’s doing it. The state is doing everything it can short of trying to pass a law to make the vaccines mandatory to “get the numbers up.” And Cuomo is throwing a tantrum because younger, healthy people aren’t going along with the plan. So he’s going to hold their college education and their future professional careers over their heads to get his way.