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Appalachia Health News tells the story of our health challenges and how we overcome them throughout the region. 

W.Va. University Professors Support Campus Vaccine Mandate

Image composite by Mountain Messenger

As state lawmakers consider to what extent businesses can require the COVID-19 vaccine, university professors are also weighing in.

West Virginia’s two flagship universities do not have a vaccine mandate, but faculty at both Marshall University and West Virginia University are in favor of one. According to WVU’s college newspaper, the Daily Athenaeum, faculty at both campuses voted in favor of such a requirement through a joint resolution this week.

"Faculty at Marshall and WVU are quite insistent that we take all possible precautions to keep us safe from COVID," said Mary Beth Heller, an associate professor of political science at Marshall University. "We're the ones that are in the classroom working day in, day out with our students."

Campus administrators, not faculty, are ultimately the ones able to make that call. So far, neither school has said they’d require a COVID-19 shot.

“WVU strongly urges everyone to be vaccinated,” said spokesperson April Kaull. “While we always appreciate and consider input from our campus community, any change in our policy would be an administrative decision made in consultation with our Board of Governors.”

Kaull also pointed to the already high vaccination rates on campus. She said 92 percent of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated and so are 80 percent of students. About 58 percent of all eligible West Virginians are fully vaccinated.

WVU just announced it’s rolling back its masking policy. Now students can walk through campus hallways without a face covering, but must mask up once they sit down for class.

At least one college in West Virginia has, in a sense, mandated the vaccine. West Virginia Wesleyan College students can choose either to get the shot or pay a $750 fee.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.

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