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Florida university leaders urge students to get vaccinated

Florida colleges are urging students to get vaccinated before coming back to campus in a few weeks.
Florida colleges are urging students to get vaccinated before coming back to campus in a few weeks.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The presidents of Florida’s 12 state universities are asking students returning to campus for the fall semester to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

An open letter to students published Tuesday by the university system’s Board of Governors “strongly” recommended students get vaccinated before coming back to school.

The letter was signed by the leaders of each state university.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, our successes are a result of our campus communities accepting a shared responsibility for their health and well-being and practicing recommended precautions. Being vaccinated can protect your health, and you are likely to avoid disruptions in your semester if you are exposed to COVID-19,” the letter said.

Board of Governors Chairman Syd Kitson and state university system Chancellor Marshall Criser also signed the letter.

The recommendation came amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida that has been driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

With vaccination rates lagging, local officials across the state are ramping up messaging to urge people to get vaccinated.

Florida A&M University launched a campaign last week aimed at providing incentives to students and employees to get vaccinated. The university said in a news release that it plans to give out $1 million in prizes, including cash, a laptop and an iPad to students who get vaccinated.

The University of Florida issued an announcement on Friday to “urge the entire university community” to get vaccinated.

The state is not mandating that students get vaccinated, as Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly voiced opposition to such mandates.