Vanderbilt removes mandatory vaccination requirement, adds Monkeypox guidelines – The Vanderbilt Hustler

The update directs students with Monkeypox symptoms to the Student Health Center.
Anjali Chanda
An “Anchor Down, Step Up” sign in Rand Hall, as photographed on Feb. 5, 2021 (Hustler Multimedia/Anjali Chanda).
Ilana Drake, Staff Writer

In an Aug. 11 announcement, Vanderbilt released health and safety guidelines for Fall 2022 that include changes to COVID-19 protocol and introduce procedures for monkeypox.
 
Changes to COVID-19 Guidelines
Per the announcement, the university announced it will not have a mandatory vaccination requirement during the 2022-23 school year. If community members would like to share proof of vaccination or boosters, they are still able to upload records to a submission form. There will also be no size limits for gatherings, and indoor spaces can reach their maximum number of persons allowed.
For Fall 2022, we will continue to be attentive and realistic in our COVID-19 approach, focusing on shared responsibility, respect, and support for fellow community members,” the university statement reads. “We will maintain a flexible and nimble public health coordination function ready to adapt to current and future health and wellness needs.”
The statement directs students with symptoms to the Public Health Central Command Center, which works with anyone who has tested positive and close contacts of that person. Additionally, the Center provides help with testing, vaccination records and coordinates possible future vaccination clinics.
If a student or community member tests positive for COVID-19, they are asked to complete a webform that will be sent to the Command Center, which will then contact students regarding isolation protocol. Similar to the 2021-22 school year, students who are awaiting their test results or who have received a positive test will remain in quarantine. This year, campus residents will remain in their normal housing assignments while awaiting results.
Vanderbilt’s website lists that, this year, there is “limited isolation space” for those who have immunocompromised roommates. Students who identify as immunosuppressed and who do not have their own residential space should record their information with Student Access and ask for accommodations. Accomodations for immunocompromised students must be confirmed before a student’s roommate is diagnosed with COVID-19. 
Sophomore Maya Maciel-Seidman said that she feels nervous about Blakemore House, which was previously designated as a quarantine location for 2021-22, being unavailable for this function this year. According to a university representative, four of the Mayfield Lodges, which house ten people each, will be utilized as quarantine/isolation housing.
“I think it will spread quickly in dorms since students will be self-isolating in their residences,” Maciel-Seidman said. “Students who test positive will be a risk not only to their roommates, but to the rest of those living in their dorms.” 
When an individual tests positive, they will stay in quarantine for 5 days after their test or from the time their symptoms began, depending on which occurred first. If the individual feels better or is asymptomatic, they can return to their daily campus activities, but will need to check their symptoms and wear a mask for 5 days following their isolation. Similar to the 2021-2022 school year, students are responsible for contacting their professors and getting caught up on work. 
Meaghan Kilner, a junior and blood cancer survivor, said she was frustrated with the less stringent protocol this year. 
“This would be more tolerable if Vanderbilt was putting in other measures to protect medically vulnerable students,” Kilner said. “But when I reached out to Student Access Services, they told me that my only options were to take a reduced course load or a medical leave of absence; this is not allowing for equal access to education for me and other medically vulnerable students.” 
 
Monkeypox protocol established
In an Aug. 17 email, the university also acknowledged the recent surge in monkeypox cases in Davidson county. Per the email, if a student does not feel well or has monkeypox symptoms, they are asked to contact the Student Health Center regarding next steps. Similar to the university’s COVID-19 protocol, students awaiting monkeypox results will be isolated in either isolation housing provided by the university if they reside on-campus or in their normal off-campus residences. 
 
Ilana Drake (’25) is a student in Peabody College planning to major in human and organizational development. A staff writer for the Life section, her work has appeared nationally in Ms. Magazine and YR Media, among others. Ilana has won numerous Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her work. She previously was a mentee in Girls Write Now for three years, and she served on the New York City Department of Education’s Chancellor’s Student Advisory Council. When Ilana is not writing, she can be…
Anjali Chanda (’23) is from Beverly, MA. She is majoring in sociology and English with a focus in creative writing. In the past, she wrote for the Arts and Society Section of the Greyhound Newspaper at Loyola University Maryland. In her free time, she can be found painting, writing stories, or rewatching New Girl. She can be reached at anjali.d.chanda[email protected]
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