NSHE employees face possible vaccine mandate

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Photo courtesy of Frank Meriño via Pexels.

The Nevada System of Higher Education is planning to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all of its nearly 24,000 employees by Dec. 1. 

NSHE has reported that roughly 18,000 or 75 percent employees are vaccinated, as of Sept. 15. This percentage is up by 19 percent from the beginning of September. 

At UNLV, around 2,500 out of 10,000 employees are still in need of their vaccine according to the NSHE database. NSHE is hoping that the vaccination rate will continue to rise as the mandates get stronger and stronger. 

Brian Labus, UNLV associate professor, believes that about half of UNLV students are vaccinated. He predicts that the number of vaccinations will continue to rise, but not all at once as the student vaccine mandate approaches on Nov.1.

As of Sept. 24, the only way for NSHE employees to circumvent getting the vaccine is through a religious and medical exemption which would still require weekly testing. The regents have drafted a plan to mandate the vaccine for employees and if approved employees will be mandated to be vaccinated by Dec.1. 

Overall, only 50 percent of Las Vegas residents are fully vaccinated, and 61 percent have their first dose, according to the Southern Nevada Health District

The NSHE meeting will be held on Sept. 30. The regents will make a final vote on the employee mandate. This mandate would provide continuity to students as they are mandated to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1.

This plan came about in a unanimous decision by the NSHE Board of Regents.

“I am encouraged that many UNLV employees have already been vaccinated,” UNLV President Keith Whitield said in a press release. “I am hopeful that others who are able to be vaccinated will do so in the coming weeks.”

The proposed mandate will include the thoughts and ideas of NSHE stakeholders. 

“As a student who lives on campus, I believe it [vaccinations] helps mitigate the risk of an outbreak,” a student who asked to remain anonymous said. “We have all worked hard to get this far, however the risk is still too great and I feel like a lot of college students, especially the students who paid to live on campus, are not willing to risk any more of their college experience.”

He wants the vaccine mandate so students ca n get back to a sense of normalcy. 

“I just didn’t think about it,” Hayden Bergman, UNLV freshman, said in reference to getting the vaccine late. 

Bergman got his second dose on Sept. 9. 

“It helps that other people get vaccinated now,” Bergman said. He expressed an interest in lowering the infection rate and making sure that everyone was safe moving forward. 

The NSHE student vaccination deadline approaches quickly. Many unvaccinated students are going to be forced to make a decision to either get vaccinated or risk not attending class in the upcoming spring semester. 

“As you have heard me say before, it is our best defense against the coronavirus and its variants,” Whitield said in a press release. “Our quickest path to returning to normal life. COVID-19 vaccines are free and widely available, both on campus and in the community.”

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