OXFORD, Ga. — All Emory University faculty and staff members in Oxford and Atlanta must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester, the university's president said Tuesday.
It follows the university's announcement earlier this year that all Emory students must also be vaccinated to return to in-person learning this fall, said Emory President Gregory L. Fenves.
Fenves said in a message to the "Emory community" today, July 27, that he was "announcing a new policy in response to current regional COVID-19 conditions."
"With the spread of the Delta variant and rising COVID-19 cases in Georgia, we must remain committed to protecting the health of the Emory community, and it starts with getting vaccinated," Fenves said.
"We are a month away from the start of the fall semester and the full return to campus. I know many of us are looking forward to carrying out our educational and research missions through in-person teaching, learning, and scholarship. And I sense the excitement building as we look forward to seeing friends, meeting new people, and experiencing Emory’s renewed energy in Atlanta and Oxford.
"The COVID-19 vaccines — which Emory researchers played a role in developing and testing — have been highly effective and are our strongest defense against the virus. Yet the pandemic is not over."
Emory community members can sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge, via Emory Forward, he said.
"If you are in the process of being vaccinated, you must continue to take a weekly test until fully vaccinated — two weeks after your final dose," he said.
Emory staff and faculty members can apply for a vaccination exemption based on medical contraindications or strong personal objections, he said.
"Community members who have an exemption will still be required to complete a COVID-19 screening test once a week. Screening tests can be scheduled online.
"Currently, more than 85% of Emory faculty, staff, and students are fully vaccinated. The recent rise in COVID-19 cases is connected to a surge in transmission among unvaccinated individuals, and although the Emory vaccination percentages are high, we must do even better.
"We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 throughout our city and region, along with the latest CDC recommendations, and will adjust Emory’s policies — including mask wearing — as needed for the health of the community.
"As a reminder, all Emory community members are currently required to wear masks when inside campus buildings, except when eating or drinking. If future conditions warrant, we may also increase the frequency of testing and/or expand the range of people who will need to be tested depending on the public health situation.
"I’d like to thank you all for doing your part to keep our community healthy during these challenging times."