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MSU students, faculty and staff must get COVID-19 vaccines for fall semester

Carol Thompson
The Detroit News

Michigan State University will strengthen its coronavirus restrictions for the fall semester by requiring students, faculty and staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks indoors.

MSU President Samuel Stanley said the resurgence in cases caused by the highly infectious delta variant prompted his decision. 

"We are all in this battle against COVID-19 and its variants together and I firmly believe the actions we are taking today are necessary measures," he wrote in a letter to students, faculty and staff on Friday. "As we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor the situation and will adjust as needed."

Stanley said he and other MSU officials had hoped they wouldn't have to issue a vaccine mandate. They decided to take the step because of "very disturbing" reports showing the delta variant is more contagious than the original version of the coronavirus and may be spread by vaccinated people who get rare breakthrough infections. 

MSU will provide limited exemptions to the vaccine requirement for people who have medical or religious reasons not to get vaccinated. Stanley acknowledged some students might be opposed to vaccines and said he hopes they don't choose to leave school.

"I respect people's ability to make a choice," he said. "This, to me, has nothing to do with politics, has nothing to do with ethics. It has everything to do with public health and how we keep each other safe."

MSU's announcement followed a similar announcement by the University of Michigan, which also will require students, faculty and staff get vaccinated. The two join hundreds of colleges and universities across the country that have issued some kind of vaccine requirements for their students and faculty.

"I think we're going to be seeing more of this going forward," Stanley said.