IHL votes against COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students, staff at Mississippi's universities

COVID-19 vaccinations will not be required for students, staff and faculty at Mississippi's public universities.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning voted against mandating students and employees to show proof of vaccination as a condition of employment or enrollment at a special emergency called meeting held Friday.

"The Board of Trustees strongly recommends all eligible students and employees within the university system get vaccinated against COVID-19," said Dr. J. Walt Starr, president of the IHL Board of Trustees. "The vaccine is clearly the best protection against COVID-19 infections, transmissions, and has been medically reviewed and approved by our country’s leading scientific experts. However, the Board does not deem it prudent to require it as a condition of employment or enrollment, except at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and other clinical settings."

The Mississippi State Department of Health has strongly recommended eligible students get a COVID-19 vaccine, but has not mandated, nor recommended IHL mandate a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of attendance.

The universities have encouraged and incentivize employees and students to get vaccinated through outreach campaigns and numerous incentives, including tuition credits, dining dollars, bookstore vouchers, housing credits, gift cards and parking passes. The state's universities have also provided opportunities on campus for those who are eligible to get vaccinated.

All of the state's universities require masks to be worn indoors and students and employees who have symptoms or have had contact with someone who has tested positive are required to self-isolate and make an appointment to be tested. Social distancing and other precautions are in place on campuses, as well.