BATON ROUGE, La. — When Kevin Cope heads back to LSU’s campus to begin teaching in-person classes this Fall, a lecture won’t be the only thing on his mind.
“I happen to be a vaccinated person, so my fear level is not high, although it’s not zero either,” Cope said.
LSU is currently not requiring COVID vaccines for students, faculty and staff.
“It has not been clear to the administration the depth at which the faculty feels anxiety or concern about the situation on campus,” Cope said.
LSU administrators say because the vaccines are only approved through emergency use by the FDA, the university is unable to mandate, but does encourage them.
“My concern is that we are setting up almost the perfect incubator to spread the disease among those who for whatever reason they’re not yet vaccinated and also that we are in a situation where we could potentially create yet another variant,” Cope said.
Going against the administration, LSU faculty members recently voted to pass resolutions, pressing for a vaccine mandate. Now, a legal debate after Attorney General Jeff Landry sent a letter to university leaders saying a mandate would violate state and federal laws.
“I think it’s very unfortunate the attorney general, who is an educated person, has aligned himself up with people who are not adequately informed by science,” Cope said.
Other public universities in Louisiana only encourage vaccines as well while some private universities require them. Right now, LSU requires vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus-diphtheria and meningococcal meningitis. Cope says COVID-19 should be added to the list.
“Going to university is an elective process. Nobody makes you go to the university so it’s perfectly reasonable to say that if you exercise that choice you should make additional choices like getting vaccinated,” Cope said.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have requested full authorization of their vaccines from the FDA. There’s no timeline on when decisions will be made.