A cartoon of a wildcat in a Davidson jersey being vaccinated.
Illustration by Richard Farrell ’22.

Ian Macel ’24 (he/him), Staff Writer

Per an email last week, all Davidson students, staff, and faculty are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The FDA granted Pfizer’s vaccine full approval on August 23rd for individuals 16 and up, which was Davidson’s benchmark for requiring full vaccination of all non-exempt community members. 

In an email sent on July 23rd the college stated that “we intend to require Covid vaccination for all members of the Davidson community once a vaccine fully approved by the FDA becomes available.”

On August 26th, after the Pfizer vaccine was fully FDA approved, Davidson sent a reminder email stating that their universal vaccination policy was now in effect. 

According to Jay Pfeifer, Davidson’s director of public relations, currently 97.3% of students are fully vaccinated, and an additional 1.2% have started the vaccination process. In total, 98.5% of Davidson students are fully or partially vaccinated. Pfeifer continued to say that 91% of staff are vaccinated.

Since last week’s message, Pfeifer states that vaccinations have increased and that student life is in contact with any unvaccinated students. 

“Based on the number of students who are fully vaccinated or in process, we believe the number of students who are unvaccinated and do not have an exemption is very small. Student life is talking to them about next steps.” 

The school is not yet sure how many exemptions will be granted, and a specific date by when students must be vaccinated was not provided. 

Covid Policies Going Forward

The town of Davidson has an indoor mask mandate that the college will continue to enforce. 

Davidson is also still restricting large outdoor gatherings and open consumption at the Armfield courtyard. However, in an email from September 3rd the Covid Core Response Team stated that “Student Life will work with residents at Armfield about safe possibilities on campus.”

Despite the current closure of Armfield, there is hope for a return to a more typical social scene later in the semester. According to Pfiefer, the administration is focusing on a safe way for social organizations to be able to host formal and informal gatherings. 

“Student Life is discussing [informal gatherings] with Dr. Lutz right now, focusing on how this can happen safely.  We anticipate that organizations will be able to host formal and informal gatherings as outlined in the Student Handbook, deferring to current campus health guidelines.”

Reactions to the Vaccination Policy

Prosser Carnegie ‘73 lives across the street from the Sloan music building. He told The Davidsonian that Davidson’s universal vaccination policy pleased him, and gave him comfort as part of the Davidson community.

“Not only is [universal vaccination] practicing the best preventative methods for spread on campus, but it also provides some level of comfort for the community as a whole.” 

Carnegie, a lawyer, continued, “there are no legal personal rights being violated to mandate vaccinations. The claim of personal liberties violations is just a battle cry for the uneducated. Again, at law, vaccination mandates are legal.” 

Sarah Todd Hammer ‘24, who wrote last semester about her experience getting vaccinated as a disabled person, mirrored Carnegie’s sentiment that it provides comfort knowing everyone on campus will be vaccinated. However, Hammer acknowledges that the vaccinated are still at risk for COVID and that this does not mark the end of the pandemic.

 “It’s relieving knowing there is some form of protection against COVID, but it’s important to remember that vaccinated people can still have serious complications from COVID and even pass away from COVID. So while knowing most everyone around me will be vaccinated brings me comfort, I recognize that the pandemic is far from over.” 

Hammer continues to state that it is important for everyone without an exemption to be vaccinated, as universal vaccination is truly a public effort. 

“Being vaccinated helps our individual selves but also everyone else, so getting vaccinated is a community effort. We should all care about one another’s health and get vaccinated if we are able to do so.”