OSU plans to require COVID vaccine for all students, staff this fall

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Less than two weeks after saying it would not require students to have the COVID vaccine, Oregon State University announced Tuesday it plans to make all students and staff get the shot before the fall term begins.

“As we advance our plans to resume traditional on-site and in-person activities for the 2021-22 academic year, high rates of vaccination among our students, faculty and staff are needed to help improve the safety and well-being of our community,” said Interim President Becky Johnson. “This vaccination requirement is intended for students and university employees so that we mutually contribute to the greatest level of population protection possible from COVID-19.”

Students enrolled exclusively in online courses through OSU’s online education provider Ecampus – and those who do not come to on-site OSU locations – are not required to be vaccinated, but university leaders strongly encourage all members of the university community to be vaccinated, according to a statement.

The statement, released late Tuesday, said OSU’s vaccination requirement plans were informed by state and federal guidance related to vaccines, advice from public health experts, and guidance from other organizations, such as the American College Health Association.

In late April, OSU-Cascades sent a message out to all faculty, staff and students, saying after extensive analysis, it wouldn’t require the vaccine.

“So many more people are getting vaccinated now,” Christine Coffin, director of communications for OSU Cascades told Central Oregon Daily News. “Requiring the vaccination may not encourage that many more people to get vaccinated.”

But the decision from Corvallis extends to the Bend campus as well.

The University of Oregon also said last month it had no plans to require the vaccine, but that decision looks more likely to change with Oregon State’s decision.

Earlier this week Washington and Washington State also announced plans to require the vaccine, joining a growing list of colleges nationwide doing the same.

Central Oregon Community College said in late April it had no plans to require the vaccine.

The first steps in implementing the vaccination program are already underway, with ongoing education and promotion of vaccine availability, OSU officials said.

Discussions with students, employees, Faculty Senate leadership and unions will continue through the summer.

As the vaccine requirement policy is finalized, university leaders will share further details, including how students and employees will be able to confirm that they have been fully vaccinated or request an allowable exemption to being vaccinated, the OSU statement said.

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