Former NC health directors ask UNC System to mandate COVID-19 vaccines

National News

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Students are beginning to move back to college campuses across the state.

Those enrolled in the UNC System can either get a COVID-19 vaccine or get a weekly COVID test. Some health leaders said this won’t be enough to slow the delta variant’s spread.

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Six former state health directors got together and set a letter to the UNC System. They’re asking for COVID vaccine mandates for all students and employees before everyone returns to campus.

“The vaccine is not fully licensed by the FDA yet, but we understand that and would ask that the UNC system would consider at once the vaccine is fully licensed,” said Jeff Englel, former North Carolina health director.

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Engel is one of the former health directors who sent the letter to the UNC System. Engel said variants could mutate and get worse if more people don’t get their doses.

“That will be a nightmare,” he said. “That will put us back to where we were in March 2020.”

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East Carolina University students, like Riley Adams, said weekly testing is a reasonable request for unvaccinated students.

“I was on campus last semester and they required weekly testing and we only had like one or two cases every time we did testing,” said Adams. “It was honestly impressive. So I think doing that on a larger scale will hopefully combat the delta variant.”

Adams said she isn’t too keen on the idea of requiring vaccines.

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“I think a woman should have the right to choose, and if a school required vaccines, then that could spiral out,” she said.

In the letter, the former health directors point to other public and private schools across the country mandating vaccines. They said the UNC System could do the same.

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“I think that they should move ahead now and legally they can,” said Engel.

Federal health experts speculate the FDA could give full approval to the Pfizer vaccine by the end of August. They said this could spark more vaccine mandates across the country.

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