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'It's for everyone's safety' | Rhodes College students say school's vaccine requirement is selfless act to keep people safe

Rising senior Nico Lindsay and rising junior Nowreen Sarwar said it's time for their classmates to step up and get vaccinated before returning to campus.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rhodes College students, regardless if they have had COVID-19, will have to be vaccinated before they can return to the campus in the fall. If they opt-out of getting the vaccine, they will have to pay $1,500 dollars every semester.

Local 24's Brittni Clemons talked to some students to see how they feel about the school's newest rules.

Rising senior Nico Lindsay and rising junior Nowreen Sarwar said it's time for their classmates to step up.

"Get vaccinated folks," Lindsay said.

"It's for everyone's safety," said Sarwar.

Rhodes emailed students recently letting them know the COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory if they don't want to cough up $1,500 every semester. The health and safety fee will cover the student's costs of mandatory COVID-19 testing. 

According to the school's website, vaccinated students will not be required to take a COVID test to return to the campus or be subjected to regular asymptomatic testing. However, non-vaccinated people will be subjected to initial and regular testing upon return to campus. 

“Think about to the beginning of the pandemic, we knew what the end goal was everybody was like the only way we are ending this is with a vaccine," Lindsay said. 

But, he said he believes students will eventually choose to get vaccinated.

"To me, the bigger incentive would be not so much the money, but the process of going through to testing all the time. I think that was my thing at the end was like once I got vaccinated I was like, 'great, I don't have to go and do testing."

Lindsay said his peer's decision to stay unvaccinated will impact the entire city.

"Your kid, they might not have a bad case, but they might be out in the town and give it (COVID-19) to somebody who can't take time off work," Lindsay said. 

Sarwar said at the end of the day, students have a choice and it's an easy one.

"If your doctor is ok with it and you don't have any theological reasons to hold back then it's ok," she said.

According to the school's site, students should submit their vaccination cards online by Aug. 1. Medical or religious vaccine exemption requests may be submitted for review to Student Accessibility Services. The recommended deadline for priority review of vaccine exemptions is August 2, 2021.