Rhodes College says more than 90% of students and staff vaccinated after mandate

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Student: "You have to think of not only yourself but others."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Officials at Rhodes College say 94% of students are vaccinated along with 91% of staff members after the college instituted a vaccine mandate earlier this summer.

Rhodes is giving all students and staff until Sept. 30 to get fully vaccinated if they want to be on campus. The policy allows for religious and medical exemptions.

Rhodes posted its vaccination statistics on social media Wednesday, in part, saying the mandate “offers (their) community a great deal of protection as the Delta variant spreads.” 

Students WREG talked with say they have no problem with the new rules.

“I think we’re doing great,” sophomore Emma Gruss said. “I just love to be back in campus, like on campus, in person classes. So, I’d honestly do anything for it.”

Other Mid-South universities, like LeMoyne-Owen College and Christian Brothers University, are also requiring students and staff to get vaccinated. Rhodes sophomore Kumudie Wiyathunge says she understands vaccine mandates are controversial but she believes they are necessary. 

“I mean, I think it’s just because it’s a mandate. You have someone telling you what to do,” she said, “but when it comes to something like this that affects the whole community you have to think of not only yourself but others.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain.

“A college environment is the perfect place for the virus to completely explode,” Dr. Jain said, “and a number of students can get sick and very sick over time. When we vaccinate them we develop a sort of herd immunity within that community.”

Now that the Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval, The University of Memphis is working with the state to institute a vaccine mandate. Students are required to mask up in classrooms.

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