The Food and Drug Administration may give full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as soon as Monday, The New York Times reported on Friday. That’s big news for colleges, many of which have indicated that they will require students to be vaccinated as soon as full approval — as opposed to the current emergency-use authorization — is given to one of the three vaccines.
Among the campuses that have said a requirement hinges upon full FDA approval are the University of Minnesota system, Louisiana State University, and others.
The approval will remove yet another roadblock for administrators weighing whether to issue a mandate. The legal landscape has been favorable to such requirements even under the current emergency-use authorization, with a legal challenge to Indiana University’s mandate being rejected by several courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
But some campus leaders have hesitated. The president of Eastern Oregon University previously told The Chronicle that administrators had made their requirement contingent on full approval because they believed it would help alleviate hesitancy around getting the shot.
The approval may come at an opportune moment for college leaders hoping for an uninterrupted, in-person fall semester. The more students who are vaccinated on campus, the lower the risk of transmission, experts have said, although some have cautioned that other mitigation strategies may be necessary even with high levels of vaccination.