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University of Washington joins WSU in crafting COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students

UPDATED: Mon., May 3, 2021

University of Washington president Ana Marie Cauce speaks to the crowd gathered to hear the announcement that Gonzaga University would host UW medical students on campus, starting in the fall of 2016. The announcement was Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 at Gonzaga University. Cauce announced on May 3, 2021 that UW will require students to be vaccinated in the fall, though there will be some exceptions.  (JESSE TINSLEY)
University of Washington president Ana Marie Cauce speaks to the crowd gathered to hear the announcement that Gonzaga University would host UW medical students on campus, starting in the fall of 2016. The announcement was Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 at Gonzaga University. Cauce announced on May 3, 2021 that UW will require students to be vaccinated in the fall, though there will be some exceptions. (JESSE TINSLEY)

The University of Washington will enact a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all students for the upcoming school year.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce made the announcement Monday, saying the policy will allow for medical, religious or philosophical exemptions.

“People can state a philosophical objection to receiving the vaccine, but will be required to formally provide that objection,” UW spokesman Victor Balta said in an email. “Details on this process will be provided early this summer.”

The university has allowed for such exemptions with vaccinations for other conditions, including measles, mumps and meningitis.

“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,” Cauce said in a statement.

Students from the UW School of Medicine Spokane normally attend class at Gonzaga University’s Schoenberg Center.

When asked whether the vaccine requirement would apply to those students, Balta said the university “will be working closely with our WWAMI state and campus partners as we finalize details.” WWAMI is the university’s five-state medical education program, with the acronym representing the participating states: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

UW still is undecided about requirements for faculty and staff, citing further consultation needed with faculty, the state and academic personnel and staff leadership.

Last week, Washington State University announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students, staff and volunteers partaking in on-campus activities. UW and WSU are thus far the only two public universities in Washington to announce a requirement, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.Greg Mason can be reached at (509) 459-5047 or gregm@spokesman.com.

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