The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents voted Friday to give Chancellor Jay Perman the ability to determine a fall COVID-19 vaccination protocol.
Local schools, including American, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities, have all already mandated COVID-19 vaccines for the fall semester.
Perman expressed his support for mandating vaccinations, but acknowledged that some don’t want to get vaccinated due to health, religious or other personal reasons. However, he said that they must do everything they can to protect not only the university population, but neighboring communities as well.
“I do believe that mandating a COVID vaccine is a reasonable and necessary means of preventing spread of the disease and protecting community safety. I believe the unique nature, the special nature of our campuses, requires it,” Perman said.
Ike Leggett, a member of the Board of Regents, inquired as to how vaccinations would be enforced. Perman responded that documentation of vaccination would need to be shown, such as vaccination cards.
University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman Hrabowski supported a vaccine mandate. Hrabowski has also been an advocate for the state’s GoVax effort.
“We should be following the science and the science is definitely saying mandatory vaccinations,” Hrabowski said.
Bowie State University President Aminta Breaux agreed, adding that mandating COVID-19 vaccines will build trust within the communities since individuals will arrive back to campuses knowing it’s the safest it can be.
University of Maryland President Darryll Pines added his support, and also mentioned the possibility of mandatory booster shots in the fall in response to variants of the virus.
However, board member Bill Wood brought up the legality of the issue, saying that there are already many pending lawsuits in several courts regarding mandatory vaccines. He expressed his concern on how a system-wide mandate would hold up in court due to individuals’ reasons to not get vaccinated.
Robert Neall, former secretary of the state’s health department, said he “wholeheartedly” supported Perman, saying the strongest approach to getting some semblance of normalcy is widespread mandatory vaccinations.
“I think as regents we have a special responsibility in making sure our facilities are safe,” Neall said.