(BIVN) – The University of Hawaiʻi announced on Monday that beginning in the fall 2021 semester, on-campus students will be required to have a COVID-19 vaccination, provided one has been approved and fully licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by that time.
UH President David Lassner held a news conference on the policy, and the UH system provided this media release prior:
The University of Hawaiʻi System is adding the COVID-19 vaccination to its student health clearance requirements beginning in the fall 2021 semester. This means that, to be on any UH campus, students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As with existing health clearance requirements, students will be able to request exemptions for medical and religious reasons. More detailed information will be made available in the coming months as implementation plans are finalized.
“It is clear that a vaccinated campus is a safer campus for everyone, and a fully vaccinated student community enables the best opportunity for a healthy return to high-quality face-to-face teaching, learning and research,” said UH President David Lassner. “This decision does not come lightly, and is based on guidance from our own Health and Well-Being Working Group as well as the American College Health Association recommendation that all on-campus college students be required to be vaccinated.”
The vaccine requirement will take effect only after at least one of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently under emergency use authorization has been approved and fully licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is anticipated this summer.
Unvaccinated UH students will still be welcome and may enroll in online courses. Online learners will continue to be able to engage with student services online, as they have done over the past year, and will be able to participate in student activities virtually.
UH’s health clearance requirements for students currently include a TB clearance and immunizations for Measles Mumps, Rubella (MMR) and Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and Varicella. The Meningococcal Conjugate vaccination is also required for first-year students living in on-campus housing.
All UH students and employees can sign up now to be vaccinated, and UH urges all members of the UH community to be vaccinated now. The university will also ensure there are vaccination opportunities over the summer and at the beginning of fall for members of the UH community who arrive from other locations where they may not have been able to be vaccinated.
Hawaiʻi Department of Health Director Libby Char says UH’s decision to add the COVID-19 vaccine is an important development for the university and the state.
“Having fully vaccinated campuses will help tremendously to create a much safer learning environment and minimize any transmission of COVID-19 from person to person,” said Char.
The university will also be initiating formal discussions with the three unions that represent UH employees about possibly requiring COVID-19 vaccination.