exemptions and discussion – The Oracle

A return to campus sees no updates to Hamline’s vaccination policy, while talks about safety and religious freedom continue.

On January 22, before the start of the spring semester, Hamline Campus COVID-19 Coordinator Tracey Stoeckel sent an email informing students of Hamline’s COVID-19 policies, including an update to the Terms of Reference. of the mask.

The email reminded students of COVID-19 booster eligibility, but did not require students to be boosted. Currently, a COVID-19 vaccine or approved exemption is required for Hamline students and employees, but a booster is simply encouraged. However, those who are not boosted will need to be quarantined if exposed to a positive case of COVID-19.

At the booster clinic hosted by Hamline on Feb. 1, 194 students and employees received a booster dose, Stoeckel told the Oracle.

Hamline announced the initial vaccine mandate on campus in a July 15, 2021 email.

“Mandating the vaccine last fall was an easy decision to make based on CDC/MDH guidelines,” COVID Consultant Tracey Stoeckel wrote in an email “We wanted to give our students the best opportunity to stay in class in person and we felt that mandating the vaccine provided that.”

Professor Mark Berkson is the chairman of Hamline’s religion department and has researched religious vaccine exemptions in the past, but was not involved in the creation of Hamline’s vaccination policy.

“You don’t force a person to get vaccinated,” he said. “You say there are consequences for not having one. Just as if you don’t want to wear a seat belt, the consequence is that you don’t drive a car.

Dean of Students Patti Kersten said she believes the Hamline community supports the vaccination policy, but noted that Hamline students can apply for a medical or conscience exemption.

For some people, their beliefs prohibit them from taking certain medications or getting vaccinated, Stoeckel said.

“Hamline University is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and supportive experience for all and recognizes genuine and genuine respect for religious practice or moral belief as it relates to the practice of vaccination,” Kersten said.

However, an exemption may be granted in certain situations.

“If the individual has a genuine and sincere belief based on the doctrine of a religious community or a genuine and sincere moral conviction that is contrary to obtaining the vaccination,” read an email from Kersten explaining the process. .

Along with this, they must have completed the required documents and documents, which can be found on the vaccinations page from hamline.edu. Names will be removed from applications before being reviewed by a committee of university representatives.

Kersten declined to state or estimate the number of students who requested an exemption, citing confidentiality concerns.

Professor Berkson is a supporter of health exemptions, but thinks there should be a high bar for religious exemptions.

“Nearly every religious leader from every faith tradition has said vaccines are acceptable, permitted, recommended, or required… This includes the pope, who said, ‘it is an act of love to get vaccinated because you care for others and for yourself,” he said.

Some people oppose the vaccine because of the potential use of developing fetal cell lines. Berkson said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses fetal cell lines early in development, like with Tylenol and Pepto Bismol.

Berkson explained that there is no actual fetal tissue or cells in any COVID-19 vaccine, and Pfizer and Moderna did not use fetal cell lines at any stage of development.

“I think ultimately a religious exemption case is and should be very difficult to make. I will say that a lot of them are actually ideological and political objections taking a religious form,” he said.

First-year Maddie Urness agrees with the vaccine mandate and doesn’t know of anyone who needs an exemption.

“I could go all the way about how easy it is to get vaccinated,” she said.

Carter Viner, a sophomore at Hamline and president of economic affairs at HUSC, personally supports decisions that prioritize campus-wide health and safety and hopes Hamline will continue to adjust policies as needed. CDC guidelines are changing.

“Vaccines are remarkably safe and effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths, so I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Hamline should continue to provide sight and easy-to-access vaccination sites for all students, faculty and staff,” Viner said.

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