As COVID concerns continue to grow in South Florida, two universities are requiring faculty and staff to get the vaccine

Donna E. Shalala Student Center University of Miami Campus – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by YES Market Media

Nova Southeastern University has now joined the University of Miami in requiring both faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

NSU is requiring all faculty and staff, full and part-time, adjunct faculty, and temporary employees to complete their vaccination requirements by Sept. 20.

Faculty, staff, and postdoctoral fellows at the University of Miami were told that they should receive the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson by Aug. 1. The deadline was announced in June with the goal of ensuring employees would be fully vaccinated by the time classes start on Aug. 23. Vaccines for healthcare workers at the University of Miami Health System are optional.

Both private universities’ vaccine mandate does not apply to employees who qualify for religious or medical exemption.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova’s mandate was announced by the university’s president in a message to the school community. The fall semester begins the same day as UM’s, on Aug. 23.

“Planning for the start of the 2021 fall semester/term, we are facing the renewed challenge of the rise of the Delta variant, which has dramatically increased the number of COVID-19 cases across the country, particularly in South Florida,” NSU President George Hanbury wrote. “In response, I must consider what more we could be doing to maintain the safety of our employees and students across our various locations, workspaces, and teaching/learning environments.”

According to the university website, its goal is for “70 to 80 percent of students reporting vaccinations before the school will drop a mask mandate.”

As of Monday, nearly half of students at its main campus in Davie had reported being vaccinated.

Employees are required to report their vaccination status into the NSU Vax Max portal by Sept. 20. Employees who do not get an exemption approved or complete their vaccinations by the deadline will be offered unpaid leave for up to 45 days to either request an exemption or get vaccinated. 

In April, NSU attempted to mandate vaccines for both students and employees for the fall semester. The course was reversed after the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis banned vaccine passports. The law forbids businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination. Schools are included in this law, as they cannot require “residents or students” to show proof of vaccination. If proof is required, they can be fined up to $5,000 per incident. 

The federal government says businesses can require workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they feel necessary. DeSantis’ staff clarified that he supports a business’ own right to impose a vaccine requirement for employees.

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