Students enrolled in the University of Hawaii system this fall will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to take in-person classes or attend any of the system’s 10 locations, the university announced today.
The requirement will take effect if at least one of the three emergency COVID-19 vaccines currently approved has been fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which could happen this summer.
“It is clear that a vaccinated campus is a safe campus for everyone, and a fully vaccinated student community provides the best opportunity for a healthy return to quality personal teaching, learning and research,” said UH President David Lassner in a press release.
Lassner said the decision was “not taken lightly” and based on guidance from the university’s own working group on health and wellbeing and the recommendation of the American College Health Association.
Unvaccinated UH students can still register for online courses and virtually participate in student activities.
Hundreds of other universities and colleges around the country also require students to be vaccinated, including the University of California and California State University.
UH, which has around 50,000 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled, is already demanding that students receive the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and the Tdap vaccine, which can prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Vaccinations against varicella and meningococcal conjugates are also required for freshmen who wish to live on campus. Students must also be tested for tuberculosis.
As with current vaccine requirements, UH students can request exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine for medical or religious reasons.
Students given an exemption will be admitted to campus, but details of how this would work are yet to be determined, UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said via email. For example, unvaccinated students may need to test for the virus once a week.
The university also said today that it is considering vaccinating all staff as well and plans to initiate formal talks with the three unions that represent the university’s staff.
In the meantime, the university is encouraging all students and staff to get vaccinated now.
There are several ways to find a vaccination site or to make an appointment. Residents can find vaccination sites across Hawaii through the state’s COVID-19 portal, find Phamazien offering the vaccine using the CDC Vaccine Finder, or send their zip code to 438829 to find nearby locations where the Vaccine is offered.