UW mandates COVID-19 vaccination for students
The University of Washington announced May 3 that all students of its three branches must be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they can start the fall quarter. The UW joins an expanding list of hundreds of universities across the U.S. that will require COVID vaccination come the new school year.
UW President Ana Mari Cauce made a written announcement to the school’s community that said “students will need to verify they have been vaccinated unless they are claiming a medical, religious or philosophical exemption.”
The university will provide vaccinations at its UW Medicine hospitals and also recommended students go to one of the mass vaccination sites in Seattle or in Pierce and Snohomish counties. Students have roughly four months to get vaccinated before the fall quarter starts Sept. 29.
According to UW officials, decisions about vaccine requirements for faculty and staff are still being reviewed in consultation with faculty and staff leadership and with the state.
High UW COVID-19 rates made news this past fall and winter, including what the UW press office referred to as the “Greek community outbreak.”
Washington State University, Seattle University, Pacific Lutheran University, Seattle Film Institute, Evergreen State College and Whitman College are some of the other local schools that have announced an upcoming vaccine requirement.
A new Roadmap detour
On May 4, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a two-week pause on movement in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. All 39 counties in Washington will remain in the reopening phase they are currently in, and officials will reconsider this on April 18.
In a video press conference, Inslee said Washington was at a pivotal moment in turning the curve downward.
“Our economy is beginning to show early signs of growth thanks to some of our great legislative victories, and we know vaccines are the ticket to further reopening — if we adhere to public health until enough people are vaccinated,” Inslee said.
Health officials said fewer people are in the hospital with COVID-19, and data shows a plateauing of the fourth wave. The fourth wave has been less severe compared to previous waves, partly because hospitals know more about how to successfully treat infected patients and prevent fatalities, and because more people, especially vulnerable populations, are vaccinated.
Washington medical practitioners and Department of Health officials chimed in that they are cautiously optimistic that a two-week pause will be enough time to make more of a dent in vaccinations.
COVID-19 infections in Washington have continued to decrease since a spring spike that peaked April 26.
Read more of the May 12-18, 2021 issue.