UTAH (ABC4) – The University of Utah, Utah State University, and Weber State University have announced it will require a COVID-19 vaccine for all students to attend classes in the future.
For the University of Utah, the campus-wide mandate was issued on Friday afternoon and states, “The University of Utah intends to pursue requiring COVID-19 vaccination for its students. We appreciate this opportunity to collaborate with state leaders as the rates of infection and hospitalization grow throughout Utah.”
No further details are available at this time for both universities, but officials will share the full mandate sometime next week, along with any process for requesting an exemption based on health conditions, religious or personal beliefs.
A Utah State University spokesperson says the vaccine mandate will be required at all of their campuses throughout the state starting this fall.
Earlier this year, Utah passed a law that blocks state and local governments from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, but that law only covers vaccines approved for emergency use, not ones that have been granted full approval.
Now that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has received full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval earlier this week, the law banning a vaccine mandate is inapplicable.
Weber State University plans to enforce a similar mandate, requiring students to be vaccinated prior to the spring semester of the upcoming school year.
According to university officials, at least 67% U of U students are fully vaccinated, 4.5% are partially vaccinated, and over 80% of benefitted faculty and staff have been vaccinated.
With the recent surge in new COVID-19 cases and new variants hitting Utah, Intermountain Healthcare has reported that ICUs are currently at 100% capacity as of Friday morning.
During a Friday press conference, Intermountain Healthcare doctors say rising COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people continue to be the main cause of strain on medical staff and resources.
With students returning to in-person learning this fall, doctors and healthcare experts fear that the lack of mask-wearing paired with spotty vaccination rates will cause COVID-19 to soar even more.