Americans are still free to roam the country around unvaccinated against COVID-19 but the bill for such willful negligence is soon coming due. In West Virginia, one institution of higher learning has begun levying fees against students who show up to attend class without having been inoculated in order to recuperate its vaccine-related expenses.
West Virginia Wesleyan College President Joel Thierstein announced the new policy in an appearance on Thursday’s edition of Right Now on CNN.
“As more and more colleges mandate vaccines, one college in West Virginia is going a different route, asking the unvaccinated to pay up. West Virginia Wesleyan College will not require students be to be vaccinated, but the school will charge a $750 fee for people who show up unvaccinated by September 7th. Let’s talk about this now with the college’s president, Joel Thierstein, who is here with us. Joel, thanks for being with us this morning. Can you just tell us, what is this amount? Is this an incentive to get vaccinated, or is this just a cost recovery?” asked host Brianna Keilar.
“This is about cost recovery. We have a collaborative decision-making process at our college, faculty, and staff and students all weigh in on the processes that we – and the eventual policies that we issue, and they are – we got together this summer and decided that rather than spread the cost of testing and what have you across the entire campus, we would apply it to those who have decided not to get vaccinated and it’s solely for the purpose of cost recovery,” Thierstein said.
“Okay so right now I think it’s 90 percent staff, you say, are vaccinated. Eighty percent of your students are vaccinated. You have international students who are thrilled to be coming and getting vaccinated. Are you hearing from the students who are not vaccinated, what are they telling you?” Keilar asked.
“Yeah, we hear from everybody. And so, obviously, when you make a decision, some people are happy, some are not. The general consensus is that this is the right thing to do. The students have been even advocating for a mandatory vaccine. The student leadership came to us with that proposal. We have not gone that route, as you said. We’re looking to just make sure our costs are recovered. By the same token, if we find alternative sources of support for the testing, we’ll go with those and the fee will go away,” Thierstein explained.
“Can I ask you, will you require a vaccine if it is no longer emergency use and it goes to full approval next month?” Keilar asked.
“Yeah, that’s a good question. We have told our community that we would look at that decision again once the FDA approves it for non-emergency use. But that will be the next time we look at it. Again, we have a collaborative decision-making process. Students will weigh in. Faculty will weigh in and staff and then we’ll come together and make a decision,” said Thierstein.
“Alright Joel, we’ll track what that decision is,” Keilar added. “Good luck here in the next few weeks as you get ready to start the school year.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.