After a pandemic-disrupted year of safety measures and Zoom lectures, the promise of coronavirus vaccines offered U.S. universities a shot at normalcy this fall. The virus has not been wiped completely from campuses, but major outbreaks have so far been rare.
The arrival of flu season, however, poses an added challenge.
Colleges are ideal breeding grounds for viruses, and some public health experts are predicting that this year’s flu season will be more severe than the last. To guard against outbreaks, a number of major universities are going beyond their usual autumn flu vaccine pushes — and enacting mandates.
At Johns Hopkins University, which will enforce flu vaccine mandates for students, faculty and staff alike, one prime concern was that if a flu outbreak were to hit campus, students with flu symptoms could mistake it for covid-19 and overwhelm testing sites.
“Making the influenza vaccine mandatory was, I would say, a straightforward decision based on all of those considerations,” said Stephen Gange, the university’s executive vice provost for academic affairs and a professor in its Bloomberg School of Public Health. “I think people see the value in trying to control the flu, given that we’re still in a high level of covid transmission.”
Health experts expected the confluence of the coronavirus and flu to spur a “twindemic” — severe outbreaks of the two viruses at once — last year.
But “very few people had the flu last year, because everybody was home trying to avoid covid and everybody was wearing a mask,” explained Ranit Mishori, Georgetown University’s chief public health officer. Millions of people who avoided exposure to the flu last year may have weakened immunity, Mishori said, because their bodies did not create the barriers needed to fight the virus.
Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, Has Been Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer
This follows his transfer to a medical facility in December
The new comes from a letter he wrote:
French President Emmanuel Macron Says Someone Who Refuses COVID Vaccine Is ‘Not a Citizen’
French president Macron’s desire to ‘piss off’ unvaccinated individuals triggers outrage
Macron spoke candidly during an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, during which he said that he wanted to make life difficult for individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The French “sanitary pass” has prompted a number of protests and stiff opposition while the country nears 75% full vaccination.
“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end,” Macron said three months ahead of a presidential election. “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison, so we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”
The French Parliament heard Macron’s comments during a debate over his proposed bill to tighten restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, leading to a swift and strong uproar in response.
His opponents have labeled the comments “unworthy” of a president.
“Even if one doesn’t share their choice, they have broken none of our country’s laws,” Marine Le Pen, Macron’s chief opponent in the upcoming election, told reporters late Tuesday. “He is continuing his policy of division, of pitting the French against one another.”
She later tweeted “A president shouldn’t say that…Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
Leftist politician Jean-Luc Melanchon described the remarks as an “astonishing confession,” according to the BBC.
But Macron’s allies have defended the comments, with Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, arguing on Twitter that unvaccinated individuals have “bothered” the French by “forcing the rest of the population to endure restrictions.”
Debate over Macron’s bill continue into Wednesday as opponents still seek to delay its passage. Some of his supporters claimed to have received death threats because they are backing the legislation, The New York Times reported.
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Boston unveils the ‘Be Together’ initiative, requiring full vaccination for entry to restaurants, gyms, and sports arenas for anyone 12 and older. In March the mandate will phase-in for younger children.