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What to Know About Meredith College COVID-19 Vaccination Exemptions

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

A flag with "This is what strong looks like"
Photo by Ally Cefalu

On Sept. 16, 2021, Meredith College announced via email that students, faculty and staff will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by the start of the Spring 2022 semester. The email to students and employees said that the administration’s “guiding concern” in deciding to require the vaccine was the safety of the entire community. Students who wish to request an exemption for religious or physician-documented medical reasons can do so through an online portal beginning on Oct. 15.

Meredith’s Staying Strong website answers many of the most frequently asked questions about the vaccine requirement, but The Herald interviewed Dr. Jean Jackson, Vice President for College Programs, and Dr. Mary Johnson, Director of Health Services, to get more details about the vaccine requirement.

When asked about what will happen to students who are not vaccinated and have not been granted an exemption by the Jan. 4, 2022 deadline, Dr. Jackson stated that “students must be vaccinated or be granted an exemption in order to enroll or remain enrolled at Meredith in Spring 2022.” She also said that since conditions related to COVID-19 continue to change, the College “will continue to monitor those conditions and [make] decisions about formats of classes closer to the start of the spring semester.”

Dr. Johnson provided information about how students can obtain a vaccine exemption. She said that there is a statewide medical exemptions form that “outlines the specific contraindications to immunizations.” This form has to be completed by a physician. For religious exemptions, Dr. Johnson said, “A religious exemption must accurately reflect a student's sincerely held religious beliefs which are contrary to the practice of immunizations.” Dr. Johnson said that Meredith College is working on a “streamlined form to help students navigate this process” and that this form will be available after Oct. 15 when the portal for exemption submissions opens. Dr. Jackson stated that “if exemptions are found to have no basis, then they will not be granted.”

With fake COVID-19 vaccination records circulating on other college campuses according to WRAL, some Meredith students have wondered how the College will prevent the use of false vaccination records. Dr. Jackson said that “Student Health Services closely examines all vaccination documentation submitted to them.” If documentation is suspected to be false, it will be reported to the Community Standards Task Force, she explained. “If found to have provided false information,” Dr. Jackson said, “a student would face sanctions issued by the Community Standards Task Force up to and including removal from College.”

Dr. Johnson said that Health Services is planning to offer another vaccine clinic later in the semester. Students or employees who need help finding vaccine providers can contact Health Services or Human Resources.

Update: Because the state of North Carolina has not updated their medical exemptions form, Dr. Johnson shared with The Herald that Meredith College is considering creating their own form as other universities have done. If this is the case, both the religious and medical exemptions forms will be available on the Staying Strong website when the portal opens.

By Jayce Perry, Staff Writer


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