Local universities consider requiring student, staff vaccinations next fall

SPOKANE, Wash. — We know younger people, specifically teens and 20-year-olds, are spreading COVID-19 more than any other age group.

That’s why universities like Washington State are not taking any chances.

“It’s really clear that the way we’re gonna get the pandemic behind us is to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” WSU VP of Communications Phil Weiler said.

The school is confident the FDA will give full approval to these vaccines by then, but even if that doesn’t happen, requiring vaccines for students, staff and volunteers is still legal.

“The attorneys for all the public universities have been looking at this question really for the last several months, and I think have come to the conclusion that moving forward we believe the emergency use authorization would be legal,” Weiler said.

While the vaccines will be required, students and staff can opt out.

WSU will offer three exemptions: medical, religious and personal — they just want students and staff to at least make a decision.

“We know a lot of people believe that the vaccine should be a personal choice,” Weiler said. “We don’t disagree with that. What we want people to do is to make a choice and then to act on that choice.”

Exemptions aren’t that complex either.

WSU will use a similar system like a K-12 vaccination exemption form from the Washington Department of Health.

You don’t have to explain your exemption, but you are required to acknowledge the risk and sign off on it.

As of now, Gonzaga is choosing not to require the vaccine for students and staff, just strongly encourage it.

Today, President Thayne McCulloh said in a statement, “I’m not yet convinced that introducing a mandatory requirement regarding the COVID-19 vaccine is the place to begin.”

Eastern Washington University and Whitworth have not made a decision yet.

But, the University of Idaho tells us it will not require students to get vaccinated.

RELATED: WSU to require students, employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19

RELATED: Eastern WA universities consider requiring COVID vaccine