More Washington colleges will require COVID shots for students in fall semester

Brooke Wolford
·3 min read

The University of Washington announced Monday it will join Washington State University in requiring students at all campus locations to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the autumn quarter.

“Widespread vaccination is the only real way we can put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us and return to a more normal way of living, learning and working,” Ana Mari Cauce, the university’s president, said in a news release. “Our community is one that cares — about each other and about the state and society we serve. For your health, and for the health of us all, please get vaccinated as soon as you can.”

The school made the announcement six weeks before the end of the spring quarter “to provide time for students who are in the area to get vaccinated before summer.” UW Medicine hospitals and mass vaccination sites in Seattle, Pierce County and Snohomish County are offering shots free of charge, according to the release.

University officials are still discussing whether to require vaccines for faculty and staff, the news release said.

“Students will need to verify they have been vaccinated before the start of the fall quarter unless they are claiming a medical, religious or philosophical exemption, which is similar to the UW’s existing tri-campus immunization requirement,” the release said. “If students aren’t able to get vaccinated where they currently live, the University will provide vaccinations to students once they arrive on campus.”

The university will release details about the verification process and how to claim an exemption early this summer.

Washington State’s vaccine mandate

Washington State University announced last week that students and faculty at all campus locations will need to be vaccinated if they plan to attend in-person classes or activities this fall, according to a statement from WSU President Kirk Schulz.

“As the state’s land-grant university, [WSU] has an obligation to serve the public good and promote the health and safety of the communities it serves,” Schulz wrote. “In order to participate in any on‑site or in‑person courses and activities, students at all WSU locations will be expected to be vaccinated by the start of the fall semester.”

These Washington college campuses will require COVID vaccine for fall semester

Some programs may require participating students to prove vaccination earlier. Students who are fully online are exempt from the requirement and the university will also allow exemptions for medical, religious or personal reasons.

Students living in university-housing in Pullman must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Aug. 6. Those who don’t live in university-housing and do not have program-specific requirements will need to prove they’ve been vaccinated by Nov. 1.

The university may modify housing assignments depending on a student’s exemptions.

“Students who fail to meet this requirement will be prevented from registering for spring semester courses and/or face other restrictions,” Schulz wrote.

Where other colleges stand

Other state schools are still considering requiring proof of vaccination, including Eastern Washington University and Western Washington University, although they both “strongly encourage” students and employees to get vaccinated.

Central Washington University’s website says that while it will not require students to prove they’ve been vaccinated, it is “strongly encouraging all students, faculty, and staff to become vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible.”

Other colleges across the nation, including Stanford and Yale, have announced they will require vaccinations going into the fall.

The Washington State Department of Health reported there are 374,882 cases of COVID-19 and 5,499 deaths as of Saturday.