Tuesday, March 28, 2023

UNM Threatens Expulsion If Students Don't Get a COVID Vaccine


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Students at one of New Mexico's largest public universities will be disenrolled if they don't comply with a vaccine mandate or opt to get tested regularly.

The move is part of the University of New Mexico's policy for having all students inoculated, whether they're taking classes in-person or online. New Mexico State University isn't going that far but disciplinary measures can include suspension.

Overall, about 70% of New Mexicans 18 and over are fully vaccinated, but getting beyond that percentage is proving to be an uphill battle since there still is reluctance among many people to get the shots.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich is among those pushing federal officials to move ahead with vaccines for younger children. Some parents have raised concerns, saying more time is needed to determine the effects of the shots on young children.

The New Mexico senator joined fellow Democrats Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Alex Padilla of California in writing a letter urging Food and Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock to work "as quickly as science allows" to authorize safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12.

"Surging at alarming rates in every region of America, the Delta variant has created a new and pressing risk to children and adolescents across the country. This is a risk that requires immediate attention," the senators wrote, noting that more than 5.2 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. since the pandemic began.

In New Mexico, the latest data shows there have been nearly 40,500 pediatric cases overall with most of those involving kids ages 12-17. In the last week, about one-quarter of the state's new cases have involved kids.

The data also shows cases are trending downward.

At the University of New Mexico, the mandatory vaccine deadline is Thursday for students and staff. The school will require those without proof of vaccination to get tested weekly. Those who don't comply with the mandates will be dropped from the rolls on or by Nov. 5.

The university also warned that disenrollment will result in termination of student employment, including graduate student contracts, and that scholarships, loans, grants or other financial aid may be affected.


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