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OSU requiring vaccinations starting in Fall Semester

Student Health Services will require all new OSU students attending at least half-time, with at least one on-campus course scheduled, to be fully vaccinated effective this fall. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Student Health Services will require all new OSU students attending at least half-time, with at least one on-campus course scheduled, to be fully vaccinated effective this fall. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Incoming first-year students who are not fully vaccinated might feel a slight sting Fall Semester as Ohio State implements a new approach to maintaining student health that changes the university’s vaccination recommendation to a requirement.

Student Health Services will require all new OSU students attending at least half-time, with at least one on-campus course scheduled, to be fully vaccinated.

The requirement applies only to new students at the Columbus campus and will not affect students enrolled prior to Fall Semester 2015 or students enrolled exclusively in distance learning courses.

Dr. Gladys Gibbs, director of Student Health Services, said the goal is to help ensure OSU student health by preventing disease instead of fighting it. She added that with next year’s freshman class being required to be vaccinated, the university will help ensure that most students will be vaccinated in four years.

“As a health care provider, I’m very excited,” Gibbs said. “We strive to keep our student population as healthy as they can be. It presents an opportunity to try to make sure that we’re supporting the health of our students to be their most successful as they matriculate.”

A hold will be placed on the accounts of students who fail to comply with each of the components’ vaccination requirements, according to the Student Health website.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The new vaccination requirements are based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. William Martin, dean of the College of Public Health, said he wants OSU to be “a safe and healthy environment for all our students.”

“The way we do that is we initiate programs like vaccines, that are CDC recommendations, that help ensure the health and safety of our student population and the broader community,” Martin said.

New students will be required to submit vaccination documentation, which will then be reviewed for “completeness and compliance” and processed within 10 business days, according to the Student Health Services website.

Gibbs said it is too early to estimate how many students will require vaccinations through OSU, but said she is confident the Student Health Services can handle the demand. She said she expects the majority of new students to already be fully vaccinated because of the Ohio K-12 immunization requirements.

Martin said that, from a public health perspective, “vaccines are always the best buy.”

“It’s a relatively small investment to reduce susceptible individuals in a population,” Martin said. “Rather than have to deal with the consequences of serious and life-threatening infections, this is the opportunity, I think, to take a cohort of our OSU students and be certain, as best we can, that they will be protected, as will their neighbors.”

Ryan Robey, a fifth-year in history, said he thinks a vaccination requirement would help keep first-year students healthy, and, in turn, benefit the health of the rest of the student population.

“I think it would be a good idea for first-year students to be vaccinated,” he said. “Most first-year students live in dorms, and they’re going to come in close contact with other students on campus, at social gatherings and at places to eat.”

Jessica Hornish, a third-year in biology, said she thinks the requirement is a good approach to help ensure student health at OSU and help promote immunity on campus.

“From a personal standpoint, I’d feel safer,” she said. “Especially with all the sicknesses going around, I’d feel safer going to a school where the majority, if not all people, were vaccinated.”

Although Hornish views the requirements as a positive, she said she could see how some students might be apprehensive about the change.

Vaccination exemptions will be available to students with medical conditions that prohibit them from receiving one or more vaccination requirement. Students also are exempt if they show good cause, or object based on religious beliefs or philosophical or moral convictions.

The process of transforming vaccination recommendations into requirements began last year with an executive advisory committee, said Martin, who served as co-chair. He added that OSU moved forward with input from the CDC, the Ohio Department of Health, Columbus Public Health and experts in infectious disease and epidemiology at Wexner Medical Center.

Central Ohio experienced a mumps outbreak in 2014, with 255 cases at OSU. The 484 cases of mumps reported in the central Ohio outbreak surpassed the 438 reported cases in the U.S. in 2013.

Gibbs said the current vaccination practices of other universities, including some in the Big Ten, were surveyed during the process, though final decisions were based on what was expected to be best for OSU students specifically.

“There’s been a long track record at college campuses — students coming together, living in close proximity and being at risk — so I think most universities and colleges reconsider their current practices on a regular basis,” Martin said.


  1. This is a good thing. This is a very good thing.

  2. Ahhh! This is so exciting! What a huge step forward for public health in Ohio!

  3. This should be a requirement at all universities! However I would watch the exclusions that you’re doing because some of them claim those and don’t need to.

  4. Not Brainwashed

    Yeah make sure everyone also gets the Rabies Vaccine too. I heard that Michigan has recruited rabid new wolverines for their teams

  5. “Students also are exempt if they show good cause, or object based on religious beliefs or philosophical or moral convictions.”

    Soooo, we accomplish essentially no change. Great. Read the fine print, guys.

  6. A good idea, but so watered down by this line, “object based on religious beliefs or philosophical or moral convictions”. This means that anyone who doesn’t feel like getting vaccinated can just say they have a philosophical objection and get off scott free.

    The ONLY objections should be on medical grounds, and that needs a physician’s note.

  7. What does fully vaccinated mean? Is there a list of vaccinations that students will be required to have? When will that be published for parents to start scheduling appointments for their students?

  8. Medical exemptions to the vaccination must come from a doctor.

    Exemptions for other reasons must be notarized.


  9. I don’t believe I’m allowed to post links in comments, but check the student health services website. Exemptions must be verified by a doctor or notary (for non-medical exemptions). You can opt-out for personal reasons, but you have to go the extra mile and get it notarized.

  10. The student health services website also has an FAQ that lists the required vaccinations.

    All new students will need diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and varicella (chickenpox). Students who are new to our residence halls will also be required to have the meningococcal conjugate (ACWY) vaccination recommended by the CDC.

  11. Amazing this hasn’t been required all along. Now I hope they impose same requirements for all staff and employees on campus!

  12. Requiring them to get paperwork notarized is not much of a hoop for people to jump through. Every bank has a notary and it takes less than 30 seconds to do. I can get behind exemptions for medical issues and even for religious reasons, if they can prove affiliation. But moral conviction? That just isn’t a good reason. There is no proof that vaccines are detrimental, especially compared to the scads of evidence showing the positive effects. Having people get out of vaccines because of opinions including “I don’t believe in them”, “they just make me more sick”, “it takes too much time and effort”,etc just shouldn’t be an option. They put people who legitimately cannot be vaccinated at even more risk. This “requirement” has done absolutely nothing to fight against disease spread by having such easy exemptions.


  14. I agree, Anon.

  15. This is America! You should be free to choose. If you want your vaccines, get them. Why do you care if I don’t?

  16. Piss off Jeff. Your “freedom” ends when it begins to infringe on mine. But your lot never sees that, do they? Its all sunshine and puppy dog farts in the magical land of libertaridise

  17. As a person with a compromised immune system, I am medically not allowed to get these vaccinations, and so the only way to protect myself from these diseases is urge my friends and family to get vaccinated, and hope and pray the people I come into contact with in classes, labs, work, and at the store are vaccinated as well.

    You’re not only putting your own life at risk going un-vaccinated, you’re putting my life, and the lives of other people who can’t get vaccinated, at risk.

  18. Kat is right, she is completely dependent on as many people as possible being vaccinated. It’s unconscionable to say that it’s just about me. No one lives in a vacuum.

    I think part of the trouble now is we’re two full generations away from these diseases being common. I’m 45 and most vaccines were invented by the time I was born. My mother and her generation would never dream of skipping vaccines for their kids because they’d seen friends crippled by polio, they’d heard their siblings wracking their lungs with whooping cough, and they’d known of kids who died from measles… It wasn’t theoretical to them.

    People lined up when the polio vaccine was invented. Now we run the other way… Because no one remembers why everyone worked so hard to eradicate these diseases.

  19. Nazi lab coats will be in full control soon

  20. @Anon, a moral reason would include objecting to the use of aborted fetus cells in certain vaccines.

  21. It would be terrible for these vaccine manufacturers to lose profit. The most most medicated country is also the sickest.. Funny how that works. Highest cancer rates, highest infant mortality rates etc etc

  22. This is just wrong. Vaccination should be a matter of choice. I could accept this silliness at a private institution, but OSU is not a private institution.

  23. “Vaccination should be a matter of choice. ”
    You can choose to stay in kitchen and make a sandwich.
    Your freedom of choice ends where you can pass germs to me.

  24. Why doesn’t the option to not get vaccines require a physicians note or a notarized letter? Why don’t we save the work and just make them tattoo “Patient 0” on their foreheads.

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