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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As more colleges and universities announce COVID vaccine requirements for the fall, they are facing additional logistical challenges figuring out what that will look like for international students.

Why it matters: Ensuring international students can get their vaccines is one big piece of safely reopening campuses — which, in turn, could also help reverse some of the dramatic enrollment declines U.S. colleges saw due to COVID-19.

  • More than 1 million international students were enrolled in the 2019-2020 school year at more than 4,000 accredited institutions in the U.S., according to data tracker Open Doors.
  • "This is a big issue for the bottom lines of predominantly smaller, non-profit, regional, private institutions," Chris Marsicano, of the College Crisis Initiative, says. "So they’ve got to find ways to get students back into the classroom especially international students where they rely on tuition and revenue."

The big picture: Universities are working to answer questions like whether they have the resources to line up appointments for an FDA-authorized vaccine once international students arrive in the U.S., as well as how early an international student must fly to the U.S. before the semester begins to get their shots.

  • Other details include working out whether vaccines received in students' home countries will suffice for vaccine mandates and how students will be able to prove vaccination before the fall semester.

Colleges have said vaccine discussions will be a case-by-case basis.

  • Some institutions like the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Buffalo say students may require revaccination.
  • Schools like Boston University and John Hopkins University recently announced that all vaccines approved worldwide are acceptable, but will not provide students with a shot.
  • If schools are very dependent on international students' tuition dollars, they may see a benefit to waiving the vaccine requirement entirely for this group if the logistics are too complicated, Melissa Whatley, assistant professor of international and global education at the School for International Training’s Graduate Institute, tells Axios.
  • Offering the vaccine once students arrive is a "definite draw for a prospective international student," she added.

What's happening: At Princeton University, international students were offered the Johnson & Johnson in April before returning overseas where it may have been difficult to receive an FDA-authorized vaccine.

What to watch: Other countries are not nearly as far along in vaccination as the U.S. Shots are often scarce for the general public or if they are, many international students are not qualified yet due to their age or other factors.

  • In India, which has a large population of international students, has a WHO-accepted vaccine but is experiencing a shortage that may last months due to the country's devastating outbreaks, per the Financial Times.
  • International students from developing countries also face varied vaccine availability, where their nation is largely dependent on neighboring countries that manufacture supplies like the U.S., China or Russia.

The bottom line: It's another example of the complexities schools are facing as they seek to assure students and faculty it's safe to get back to business.

Go deeper

Aug 31, 2021 - Health

Pennsylvania issues indoor mask mandate for K-12 schools

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Photo: Pete Bannan/ MediaNews Group/Daily Local News via Getty Images

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Tuesday announced that masks will be required inside K-12 school buildings.

The big picture: The move is a reversal from his initial stance earlier this month, when he said he wanted to leave the decision on mask requirements to individual school districts, citing guidance from the CDC, which "strongly recommend" the practice: "They're not mandating it, and neither am I."

Aug 31, 2021 - Health

FDA's top vaccine leaders are leaving

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Two of the FDA's top vaccine regulators, Marion Gruber and Phil Krause, are leaving the agency, which was first reported by BioCentury.

Why it matters: The FDA appears to be increasingly rudderless at a crucial time in the pandemic. The agency still has no permanent commissioner and now is losing two highly regarded vaccine experts all while officials weigh full approval of the COVID-19 vaccines for adults, initial authorization for kids, and booster shots for many.

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Booster shots overtake first doses in the U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate entire Brazilian city as part of study — FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adultsU.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers on Nov. 8.
  2. Health: New cases down, but the West is at risk — Low vaccination rates exacerbate America's caregiving crisis — COVID is here to stay. So what does "victory" look like? — FDA will review Merck COVID-19 pill.
  3. Politics: NHL announces all but four players have been vaccinated — WHO names new advisory group on COVID origins — Biden admin warns Moderna to "step up" global vaccine supply.
  4. Education: LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations amid staffing shortage — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive — Arizona can't use aid for anti-mask education grants, Treasury says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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