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Another Utah college will require COVID-19 vaccines. Do students support shot mandates?

Nationally, 69% of students support college COVID-19 vaccination requirements, survey shows

A COVID-19 vaccination is given at Utah Valley University in Orem on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.
A COVID-19 vaccination is given at Utah Valley University in Orem on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Davis Technical College is the first public technical college in Utah to announce a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Davis Technical College is the first public technical college in Utah to announce a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Students must receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 22. Exemptions for medical, religious or personal reasons are allowed.

Davis Tech has partnered with the Davis County Health Department to provide COVID-19 vaccines on its campus and plans to host another drive-thru clinic on campus soon. Vaccinations are available at no cost.

The technical college “strongly” recommends mask-wearing and has limited group gatherings on campus to 20 people.

Meanwhile, the University of Utah has issued updated guidance on its newly announced vaccination requirement. It requires students to either present their vaccination record or complete an online exemption form by the end of September.

“All records need to be received by Sept. 30, 2021 to prevent a registration hold from being placed on your account that prevents registration for the Spring 2022 Semester. Subsequent completion of the requirement with the vaccine or an exemption will remove the hold,” a letter to students states.

The university will accept the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine, as well as the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccines obtained outside the United States will also be accepted, provided they have been approved by the World Health Organization. Currently, these include AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sinopharm BIBP and Sinovac.

“We want our students, faculty and staff to be able to interact fully in-person in classrooms, laboratories, libraries and offices across campus. And the safest and most effective way to get back to those experiences is through these proven vaccines,” the letter states.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and available on campus by appointment at the Student Health Center, on-campus vaccination clinics or in the community. For on-campus resources, visit coronavirus.utah.edu.

Vaccines.gov has information to “find a COVID-19 vaccine near you,” the website states.

About 70 % of the U.’s students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and more than 80% of benefitted faculty and staff are vaccinated, a university spokeswoman said.

“We appreciate every member of the University of Utah community who has already been vaccinated. We know the best way out of this global health crisis and back to the exceptional, face-to-face college experience the university provides is through vaccination and following public health guidance,” the letter to students states.

What other Utah colleges, universities are requiring COVID-19 vaccines?

Other Utah System of Higher Education institutions requiring students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in the coming months include Utah State University, Utah Valley University and Weber State University.

HB308 precluded public schools, hospitals and other government entities from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations available under emergency use authorizations. With full FDA approval, the bill’s sponsor has said the Pfizer vaccine will be treated like any other vaccine under state law.

Westminster College, a private liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, previously announced that students, faculty and staff are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15.

Brigham Young University is requiring mask-wearing this fall but it has not announced a vaccination requirement.

“BYU strongly urges students, employees and campus guests to follow recent counsel from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to get vaccinated and wear masks in public meetings with limited distancing,” its website states.

What’s the national attitude toward college COVID-19 vaccine mandates?

Significant numbers of colleges and large university systems across the country announced vaccine mandates for students who want to return to campus this fall, among them the University of California, California State, State University of New York and Harvard, Yale and Brown.

Nationally, a poll of 2,002 four-year college and community college students showed 69% support colleges requiring COVID-19 vaccination if students want to attend classes in person, while 24% oppose it and 7% don’t know.

The poll was conducted between April 28 and May 2, prior to the late-summer surge of COVID-19 cases, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The Inside Higher Ed/College Plus survey, conducted for Kaplan, showed 64% of students polled had received COVID-19 vaccination, most at medical centers, community health clinics or pharmacies. Just 15% said they were vaccinated through a campus vaccination clinic. Kaplan offers test preparation services among other educational services.

Among students who said they were opposed to getting a vaccine, 23% said they would “definitely” transfer if faced with a mandate, while 17% said they “probably” would.

The subset of holdouts represents only 15% of surveyed students; 85% say they are already vaccinated or will get vaccinated.

“College administrators and college students don’t agree on every issue, but on vaccine mandates, there’s strong consensus. It’s very likely that there will continue to be more movement in the direction of mandates, at least for the fall semester, but maybe beyond, as science and data dictate,” said Isaac Botier, Kaplan’s executive director of college admissions programs, said in a statement.