Nursing Students Not Required to be Vaccinated Amidst New COVID-19 Mandates

By Brianna Bush

On Thursday, Sept. 9, Biden introduced new mandate rules requiring all employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccinations or weekly tests for COVID-19. Even with this new order, 26 percent of Tampa General Hospital (TGH) workers are not vaccinated as of Friday, Sept. 6 according to News Channel 8.

Many nursing students at The University of Tampa (UT) participate in clinical rotations at TGH, where according to News Channel 8, they will be following Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandates. These mandates also require workers at health care facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid to be fully vaccinated.

“That is not in effect as of right now,” said a representative at TGH who chose to remain anonymous. “TGH workers do not have to mandatorily get the vaccine [yet].”

This means that UT’s nursing students who go to TGH to do their clinical rotations are also not required by the hospital to have the vaccine yet. 

While UT does not require students and faculty to be vaccinated on campus, The Spartan Shield Health Safety Plan, which was created to protect the UT community during the pandemic, addresses certain exceptions.

According to the Spartan Shield Health Safety Plan, “The University will not require vaccination nor proof of vaccination, as per Florida Senate Bill 2006…as such, UT cannot require community members to be vaccinated against COVID-19…however, certain activities such as students working in clinical placements may warrant vaccines.” 

“Currently, the nursing department highly recommends the vaccine though some students depending on the hospital they are at for clinicals are mandated to get the vaccine if the hospital requires it,” said Carol Botwinski, department chair and associate professor of nursing.

Dr. Jason Wilson of TGH, who has been a front runner when informing citizens about the severity of COVID-19 strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated. 

“You know I’m admitting patients of the hospital every day who are very sick who have not been vaccinated for COVID; I have yet to admit or take care of a critically ill patient who is that way because they got vaccinated,” said Wilson in a press conference at Lykes Gaslight Square Park.   

Max Zodkoy, freshman public health major, stands with Dr. Wilson. He understands that the university cannot forcefully mandate the vaccine, but does believe that everyone should get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

“It’s following the state of Florida’s law which I disagree with,” said Zodkoy. “From a public health standpoint, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Zodkoy believes that getting the vaccine means more than protecting yourself; it also means protecting others. 

“Florida has one of the highest COVID-19 cases and the vaccine will prevent many outbreaks,” said Zodkoy.

“We all are required to wear masks,” said Jannette Bautista, graduate nursing student. “I think it [the vaccine] is a personal choice.” 

The university continues to uphold the Spartan Shield Health Safety Plan by encouraging students to remain safe by wearing a mask and doing daily COVID-19 self-assessments.

Photo credit courtesy of UT’s website.

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