BALTIMORE — All eligible students, faculty, and staff in the University System of Maryland who plan to be on campus this fall will need have a COVID-19 vaccine.
USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman announced the decision Friday.
"Mandating a COVID vaccine is the most effective strategy we have, especially as we try to reach herd immunity. It’s not just one tool in this fight; it’s our best tool. And one I believe is critical to our safe return to campus," said Perman.
He went on to say that out of 10 percent of positive COVID samples examined, the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that 30–40 percent are the B.1.1.7 UK variant, which is more contagious and potentially more dangerous.
"I’m convinced that the risk of doing too little to contain COVID on campus this fall is far greater than the risk of doing too much," said Perman.
The mandate was based on the recommendation of a USM work group that includes university-based public health and infectious disease experts, and advice from all 12 System presidents among others.
"We want students to have these bonding opportunities. We want them to have a college experience that breeds a sense of belonging. And if that’s our goal—to have a lot of students safely back on campus this fall, then we have to do everything we can to protect that safety," Perman said.
Pre-arrival COVID testing will continue to be required for those coming to campus this fall, in addition to more frequent testing for those at higher risk of transmission and the monitoring of symptoms.
Earlier this month, an opinion form the Maryland Attorney General's Office indicated that state universities could legally mandate COVID-19 vaccines, but could face potential court challenges along the way.
Maryland Congressman Andy Harris, who is also a physician, issued a statement expressing his displeasure with the decision.
"Government mandates to require an individual to have an Emergency Use Authorized vaccine flaunt the very federal FDA requirement that EUA products be optional, and that informed consent recognizing the unapproved nature of such products be obtained," Harris said in part.
The decision impacts UMD College Park, Towson University, Salisbury University, Frostburg State, Coppin State, Bowie State, UB , UMB, UMBC, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and University of Maryland Global Campus.
Morgan State has also decided to require vaccinations for those on campus.