President: Emory faculty, staff must be vaccinated for COVID-19 by fall semester

The president of Emory University updated the university's COVID-19 vaccination policy, now making it mandatory for all faculty and staff at the Atlanta-based school to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester. 

President Gregory L. Fenves made the announcement Tuesday afternoon. Pre-term session at Emory begins Aug. 9 and classes begin Aug. 25. Emory community members can sign up to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

Staff and faculty members can apply for a vaccination exemption based on medical contraindications or strong personal objections by Aug. 16 but will be required to be screened regularly.

SEE ALSO: Savannah reinstates mask mandate as COVID-19 cases rise

Fenves said currently, more than 85% of Emory faculty, staff and students are fully vaccinated.

The school previously announced all students were required to receive a vaccine in order to return to in-person instruction. 

The policy update is in response to the spread of the Delta variant and rising COVID-19 cases in Georgia, Fenves said. 

"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," Fenves said in a statement. "Yet the pandemic is not over."

Last week, Emory University Professor Clifton Crais told FOX 5 News he was urging the school to make vaccinations mandatory and circulated a petition. 

"Faculty and staff at Emory are passionate teachers and researchers, and we really want to do our job. The problem is not having vaccinations, across the board, compromises that really important goal," Crais said.

All Emory community members are currently required to wear masks when inside campus buildings, except when eating or drinking. 

Fenves said the university is open to increasing the frequency of and expanding testing as officials monitor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and the spread of the virus. 

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