The University of Alabama will begin offering COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to all students 16 and older Monday through the student health center.
So far, the UA System has not announced any plans to make vaccinations mandatory. Its campuses plan to return to traditional in-person instruction in the fall.
“At this time, there is not a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for the fall 2021 semester, but the (UA System Health and Safety Task Force) strongly encourages students, faculty and staff to vaccinate,” the system said in a previous statement, before the vaccine expansion.
Asked again after the university’s announcement, UA System spokesperson Lynn Lowe said the system’s vaccination position remained unchanged.
Some colleges and universities — mainly private institutions — have begun stating plans to require students provide proof of a COVID vaccine before returning to campus in the fall, unless a student states a religious or medical exemption. Many universities, including Alabama, already require proof of some immunizations, typically the shots against measles, mumps and rubella and tetanus.
For now, the university encourages all students to be vaccinated, whether through the campus service or another provider.
UA will offer the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to all students 16 and older who are able to receive both doses on campus. The vaccine will be provided to students for free, including those without insurance coverage, according to the university.
Students can schedule an appointment for the first dose online through the student health center’s patient portal, according to the announcement. Appointments will be available beginning April 19 during the student health center’s regular operating hours, but will depend on vaccine supply and demand, according to the university.
The appointments for second doses will be scheduled during the first appointment, according to the university.
The University Medical Center continues to provide the Moderna vaccine to faculty and staff by appointment, according to the university website.
The university still requires face coverings on campus and recommends physical distancing guidelines be followed whenever possible.
The move comes about two weeks after the Alabama Department of Public Health extended eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to all individuals 16 and older.