‘Do the right thing’: University leaders hope students get the COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus Updates

FILE – This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Colleges and universities are facing the controversial decision of whether or not faculty, staff, and students should be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some schools said yes, but here in Utah, that decision looks a little different.

Governor Spencer Cox made it law that schools, universities, and government entities cannot mandate a Covid-19 vaccine. The bills were signed a few weeks ago.

Chris Nelson with the University of Utah tells ABC4 he trusts the faculty students and staff to do the right thing.

“We credit our students with wanting to do the right thing,” said Nelson.

School leaders said the COVID-19 vaccine is strongly encouraged.

“The evidence is out there,” said Nelson. “We think it is the right thing to do. We encourage our students to do it and we think that is going to be enough actually to push the majority of our students to get vaccinated.”

Vaccinations are key to getting to a healthier fall, according to Nelson.

“What I am hearing from faculty staff and students, there is a lot of interest in getting it,” said Nelson.

The University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State University, Utah Valley University, Salt Lake Community College, Brigham Young University, Dixie State University, and Southern Utah University are all following the state law passed a few weeks ago.

“State law prohibits requiring it and we wouldn’t require something that is being used under emergency use authorization,” said Nelson.

Nelson said those on campus need to think about others when deciding whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

HB 233 and HB 308 both address COVID-19 vaccines in the state.

HB 233 said, “An institution of higher education may not require proof of vaccination as a condition for enrollment or attendance.”

Other universities like Rutgers and Brown are trying to make the Covid-19 vaccine a requirement for the fall semester.

“I certainly understand why they would want to do that,” said Nelson. “I think Utah is a different place.”

Nelson said the goal of vaccinating the students, staff, and faculty is to reach herd immunity and hopefully that means lifting a mask requirement during the fall semester.

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