(Update: Adding University of Oregon announcement)
EUGENE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The University of Oregon and Western Oregon University on Monday joined a growing number of colleges and universities across the state to require COVID-19 vaccinations for on-campus students, faculty and staff this fall.
"The science is clear: the COVID-19 vaccine effectively eliminates the chances of death or serious illness in nearly all COVID-19 infections," UO President Michael Schill said in a public statement.
"Requiring vaccinations is critical for public health. It will help us to reach the highest level of protection possible, reduce infections, limit many of the disruptions of COVID-19, and safeguard the community we live in." Schill said. "It will also allow our campus community to return to the in-person and on-campus experience that is the cornerstone of academic success, student experience, and research innovation."
Under state law, students will be exempt from the requirement "if they have a medical or non-medical reason" such as a religious, philosophical or other belief," he added.
Earlier Monday, Western Oregon University announced that in preparation for a predominantly in-person fall 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for students and employees who study or work in person at either the Monmouth or Salem campuses.
The vaccine requirement, among other efforts, was announced Monday to current students in a virtual information session focused on COVID-19 planning for the 2021-22 academic year.
Other schools to require vaccinations include Oregon State University's campuses (including OSU-Cascades in Bend).
“We know our students and employees miss the vibrance of in-person campus life, and we want to return to that while also supporting the overall safety of our communities. Vaccination is an important step toward pack immunity so our Wolves can be together again,” said WOU President Rex Fuller. “In the meantime, we’ve been doing everything we can during spring term to make vaccines accessible to members of our campus community.”
In the virtual session, Fuller emphasized that the details of the vaccination requirement plan would be further refined through engagement with many campus stakeholders, including WOU’s Reopening Committee, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, the Associated Students of Western Oregon University (ASWOU), and the university’s two unions: SEIU and the Western Oregon University Federation of Teachers (WOUFT).
Because WOU is one of Oregon’s most ethnically diverse university campuses, Fuller also pledged to engage the campus’s University Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (UDIAC) for advice and suggestions as the plan is finalized.
“The details of the plan require the input of our faculty, staff, and students, through the lens of science, data and public health expertise. It would be short-sighted to rush the details of a vaccination requirement without hearing from the WOU community,” Fuller said.
In order to incentivize students to get vaccinated sooner rather than later, the university also announced a program in conjunction with the WOU Wolfstore that gives students $25 to be used on textbooks, supplies, gear or whatever they choose.
“My hope is that this incentive program encourages WOU students to get their vaccination and rewards those who already have. It’s important we do our part to support pack immunity in our Wolf community,” said Associated Students of Western Oregon University President N.J. Johnson. “We encourage students to get their first vaccination as soon as possible so they will have their second dose completed before the conclusion of spring term.”
Free vaccinations are available in the Pacific Room of WOU’s Werner University Center on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. Walk-ins are welcome from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Or, appointments can be made with Salem Health. WOU has hosted the Polk County clinic for Salem Health since February 2021.