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04-21-21-penn-vaccination-site-covid-vaccine-chase-sutton
A dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at the Gimbel Gymnasium on April 21. Credit: Chase Sutton

Penn will place 1,150 students on spring course registration hold for violating the University's COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

The registration holds will be placed on student accounts on Oct. 29, barring students from participating in the upcoming Advance Registration period, which begins on Nov. 1 and lasts through Nov. 13. Students will remain on registration hold until they upload a copy of their completed vaccination card to their Student Health account, Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé told The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

Graduate and professional studies students make up the vast majority of the students who are noncompliant with the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, as more than 99% of the undergraduate population is fully vaccinated. 

The University announced in April that it would require all students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with exceptions for medical or religious reasons only.

Students who will be placed on registration hold are those who have either not uploaded proof of vaccination, have not applied for exemptions, have had their exemption requests denied, or are simply unvaccinated against COVID-19, Dubé said. While some students did apply for exemptions, he said, the University only granted exemptions to a "very small number of students" under specific circumstances.

The University is placing the registration holds ahead of the impending City of Philadelphia health care and higher education vaccine mandate. All members of higher education institutions in Philadelphia are required to have received either two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNtech vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Nov. 15. All those who are not vaccinated by Nov. 15 will be required to test twice weekly for COVID-19.

Dubé said that Penn community members should "take comfort in knowing it is not that many students" who are noncompliant with the vaccine requirement, and that "accountability is a part of our processes here."

The University has long placed registration holds on student accounts who do not complete pre-matriculation vaccination requirements. Penn requires all students to receive the Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Hepatitis B vaccines, among others, as part of enrolling at the University. Students who do not upload their vaccination status or are unvaccinated in any category receive a number of reminders and are eventually placed on registration hold. Dubé said that these registration holds have historically been very effective at getting students to submit paperwork or get vaccinated in a timely fashion. 

"The registration hold is a consequence for not following the rules, regardless of what vaccination it is," Dubé said. "This consequence probably hurts a bit more than a red pass, and we hope that it gets students to hold up their end of the bargain to continue to keep the campus community safe."

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