University of Utah to require COVID-19 vaccine for students

Sep 2, 2021, 1:16 PM | Updated: 1:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah announced all students must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September or a hold will be placed on students’ accounts, which will prevent them from registering for spring semester classes.

Campus was busy Wednesday night – just the way the students like it.

“Last year I wasn’t on campus a lot but when I did come to campus it was completely dead,” said Alyssa Henrie, who is a sophomore at the U. but said she feels like a freshman.

She spent the end of her senior year of high school and first year in college at home, learning online. She was thrilled when she saw the email requiring a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s kind of nice to hear that we might have a chance that will be normal again,” she said.

Even with a mask covering most of her face, you can hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes – she is happy to be on campus.

Student Health Center Director Mark Pfitzner held a briefing discussing the decision to require the vaccine.

“Last Monday, the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer COVID vaccine. With that, then the university decided to require this vaccination,” Pfitzner said.

The requirement has exemptions included, but most students will have to show proof of vaccination by Sept. 30 or a hold will be placed on their records and they won’t be eligible to register for classes next semester.

The school said details on the requirement — and the process for requesting an exemption based on health conditions, religious or personal beliefs — will be released next week.

Several Utah colleges to require COVID-19 vaccines for students

Ty Nishikawa, a freshman from California, said he’s excited about the requirement.

“I was actually excited about it, just because I want to be able to interact with others safely,” he said.

His friend Wesley Bryant has been “vaccine-hesitant,” but he said the recent FDA approval, combined with the chance to stay in person, will push him to get the shot as soon as possible.

“I haven’t gotten vaccinated yet cuz it hasn’t been a rush or a priority,” Bryant said. “Now Pfizer is FDA approved, that’ll give me an even better reason to get it.”

As a senior this fall, Connor Allain said the thought of closing campus again would be devastating, even though he knows those who oppose the vaccine are going to be mad.

“I definitely think it’s going to be a huge uproar from the people that are just refusing,” Allain said. “A lot of people that I do know are like, ‘I’m never getting the vaccination.’”

But he shared the sentiment shared by many on campus.

“I think if you ask any single student about being back, I mean I’m a senior and after a year and a half of not being on campus, how happy everyone is, just to be back and feel like a normal college student,” he said.

Utah State University and Weber State University also announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Utah Valley University and Westminster College also require students to be vaccinated, while Brigham Young University is asking for students’ vaccination status and encouraged all to get vaccinated.

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University of Utah to require COVID-19 vaccine for students