UWF encourages students get vaccine; no current plans for mandate

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — While some private schools around the country have mandated its students get the COVID-19 vaccine, public universities in Florida have not made that move as of Thursday.

The University of West Florida in Pensacola issued a statement Thursday that did not say it was requiring its students to get the vaccine, but rather encouraging them to get it.

“The University of West Florida is encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated,” a statement from the university reads. “We are actively promoting the COVID-19 vaccine and providing relevant information to students, faculty and staff on a regular basis.”

UWF is following the lead from the Florida University System Board of Governors, which has also not said it will require students get the vaccine — just encourage it.

Walking around UWF’s campus signs encouraging mask wearing and social distancing serve as a constant reminder to students to stay safe from COVID-19.

But some students wish the vaccine was required for students.

“Just like in elementary school, you are required to have certain vaccines just to enter,” UWF freshman Jacob Quijano said. “Just like with universities, you should be vaccinated.”

Others believe people should have a choice to get the vaccine and it’s shown in state government.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday banned vaccine passports used in other countries to prove vaccinations and gain entry on planes, amusement parks and restaurants.

“I mean, give me a break,” DeSantis said. “This is something that has huge privacy implications. It’s not necessary to do.”

The federal government have also shown distaste for vaccine passports.

While some might say requiring students get vaccinated to attend school might have a similar effect, many are willing to give up that privacy to ensure they and their families are safe.

“We are a generation of people. We’re all young coming to university and we deal with a lot of other people,” UWF student Jade Wheeler said. “I think some of young people don’t understand the risks of coronavirus and how dangerous it can be public health wise. So, I think it’s good to set a precedent for that.”

UWF says it will continue to promote COVID-19 safety on campus.

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