Ohio State not enforcing testing requirements for vaccine exemptions

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Ohio State does not plan to enforce testing requirements for individuals who are exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

Ohio State is not enforcing testing requirements for individuals who are exempt from the university COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

University spokesperson Ben Johnson said the university is focused on encouraging vaccination and voluntary testing rather than requiring those who are exempt from the vaccine to get tested. However, he said exempted individuals who are not following the university’s COVID-19 protocols may “ultimately face corrective action.”

Johnson said the number of weekly tests has been lower than the number of people with a vaccine exemption — with 6,000 individuals exempt and about 1,900 tests administered in the last seven days. He said the discrepancy can be attributed to several reasons.

“Employees who are on vacation that week aren’t required to test,” Johnson said. “Anyone who has had COVID within the last 90 days isn’t required to test.”

According to a Nov. 19 email from the university to faculty and staff, employees only had to test once between Nov. 15 and Nov. 23 due to Thanksgiving break. The email and the Safe and Healthy website do not have any information about student testing requirements during the Thanksgiving break or other breaks.

All Ohio State community members needed to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or receive an approved exemption, which was due Oct. 15 .

According to the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website , exemptions for students were accepted for health, personal or religious reasons on a case-by-case basis. Employees could only receive an exemption for health or religious reasons due to the federal vaccine mandate.

Johnson said 98 percent of students, faculty and staff have responded to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement by either receiving the shot or applying for an exemption. Over 92 percent of students, faculty and staff have received one or more doses of the vaccine — including over 91 percent of students and over 93 percent of employees.

According to the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State’s website , the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot are available at Outpatient Care East, Outpatient Care Upper Arlington, Outpatient Care Worthington and McCampbell Outpatient Care.

Johnson said in an email Jesse Owens North is no longer offering the vaccine.

“The big thing is get vaccinated if you can,” Johnson said. “If you’re able to get a test or more comfortable getting a test, we want people to know that tests are easily available on campus — both tests and vaccines, whether it’s your first dose, your second dose or a booster.”

Clarification: While Ohio State is not currently enforcing testing requirements for those exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine and the university has stated no plan or intention to do so, these individuals may “ultimately face corrective action.”

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