Ohio Students Might Be Applying for Religious Exemptions From COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Just to Remain Unvaccinated

Thousands of students at three universities across Ohio have required COVID-19 vaccine mandate exemptions, following some universities across the state announcing COVID-19 vaccination requirements and also releasing exemption forms, according to a 19 News investigation.

So far, the three universities – Akron University, Kent State University, and the Ohio State University have more exemption applications approved than denied, Erudera.com reports. 

Akron University announced that 85 exemption applications have so far been submitted and reviewed, with 59 percent of them being approved and 41 percent denied.

On the other hand, at Kent University, out of the 168 requests from students, 42 percent have been approved, 10 percent denied, while 79 applications are currently pending. 

“Almost all of the denials are from requesters not completing the forms per the instructions (not filling out all of the fields, not signing the forms, having pages missing from their submission, not attaching a request form at all, etc.),” a Kent State University spokesperson told 19 News.

According to the university, a total of 89,000 students, faculty, and staff members at the Ohio State University have already submitted proof of vaccination or asked for an exemption.

Alex Mortensen, who pursues studies at the University of Akron, told 19 News that he is concerned he may be giving away his right to keep this information private if he signs an exemption form. He said that several students have applied for an exemption for religious reasons, but in reality, they have other reasons why they want to remain unvaccinated.

“I think a few of them really have other concerns but are putting ‘religious concerns’ because they are afraid they might not get it otherwise,” Mortensen said.

Students believe that the easiest way to remain unvaccinated is to request a religious exemption which can be signed off by a pastor.

As of August 24, Ohio State University has introduced the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, asking staff members, faculty, and students to receive a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The university will also accept a vaccine that has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA or Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO) to fulfill this requirement,” a university statement reads.

The deadline for all Ohio State students, faculty, and staff who must get the first dose of the vaccine is October 15, while for those receiving two-dose vaccines, the second dose should be received by November 15 this year.

At Kent State University, all students who must be present at campuses are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as of August 27, 2021, whereas Akron University has required students to be fully vaccinated by December 13, 2021.

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